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Shaun Randol: The Rise of China’s Human Flesh Search Engine

One of the many reasons Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games was that, it was hoped, a massive influx of international visitors—journalists in tow—would help push the central government to lessen restrictions on China’s own domestic media. One dramatic outcome would have been a lasting breach in the Great Firewall of China, the country’s highly advanced internet censorship apparatus. While policies relaxed for foreign journalists reporting from China during the Olympics appear to be a welcome, permanent fixture, citizens reporting on events within China still have their work cut out for them. Four months after the lighting of the Olympic torch there seems to be little official progress in the movement to expand internet free speech to the masses of the great Middle Kingdom. China’s citizens, however, think otherwise. Glowing praise issued from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the success of the Beijing games conveniently did not mention the few crackdowns, arrests, and internet censorship activities that occurred during the month-long spectacle. Such admonishment was left to others, like Human Rights Watch’s Minky Worden, who chastised the IOC for leaving out of its fact sheets “the extent to which the International Olympic Committee lowered its standards on human rights around the Beijing Olympic Games.” Similarly, Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) commented, “I think, in the end, the government’s approach to the media hasn’t changed that much.” Indeed, a recent report from CPJ concludes “more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today than journalists working in any other medium...45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors.” China continues its ten-year streak at the top of this list.

Jens F. Laurson and George A. Pieler: Continuity We Can Believe In

When Barack Obama announced his Foreign Policy and National Security team, the best news was that journalists like Robert Dreyfuss, Leslie Savan, and Robert Kuttner weren’t impressed. Hoping for leftists in moderate’s clothing, they are now faced with a global affairs team that makes the President-elect look more like a moderate-conservative in liberal’s clothing. Hillary Clinton—judged by her Senate record and campaign positions on foreign policy—certainly appears more hawk than dove, though her all-too-clever triangulation on the Iraq did not serve her candidacy well. Either way, clearly she is someone most Republicans and Joe Lieberman Democrats (is there more than one?) can live with. Naming James L. Jones, the trusty marine and former supreme allied commander in Europe, as national security advisor spells continuity. On Iraq he has been publicly non-critical of the war itself but pointedly critical of its implementation and forward strategy. If one believes Bob Woodward (a coin-toss these days), Jones always opposed the invasion in private counsel. More importantly, he is a tough customer who won’t be run over like Condoleezza Rice was by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Company in her hapless stint as NSA. And finally keeping George W. Bush’s nonpartisan Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is the epitome of “continuity we can believe in.”

Jonathan Power: The Triangle Of Madness

“Those whom the gods destroy they first make mad.” - Euripides There is a madness about the triangular relationship between India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They all have resented and often hated each other; made alliances against each other; worked together when it was opportune; supported or, at least, turned too much of a blind eye to terrorists in each other's countries; and became profoundly angry if terrorism was unleashed against them. These cleavages have their roots in the Great Game, the nineteenth century British-Russian struggle for supremacy in Afghanistan and central Asia. But ever since the Red Army invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and was finally defeated by the Taliban (aided by American, Saudi Arabian, and Indian arms and training), the intensity of the regional rivalry has been ratcheted up and extended to frightening proportions, worsened by America's decision to wage war in Central Asia. It is no longer just a Great Game. It has become a Great Madness. One hostile act impacts on another and then the two together create a third, then three together create a fourth...and so on. It has long been known that the Pakistan-based terrorists who have struggled to liberate Kashmir from India's grip have close connections with the Taliban. There is also little doubt that those Pakistani terrorists whose primary interest is a free Kashmir aim to wound India's growing political and diplomatic interests in Afghanistan. India, in turn, has aimed to encircle Pakistan in order to have a counter against Islamabad's Kashmir ambitions.

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