Last full week of summer, before the academic year starts next week. This means of course that the foreshadowing of the near future has eclipsed my possibility of enjoying this week as summer, at least for the most part. Still, I'll do my best to enjoy it (and get work done, like syllabi, etc.). In the meantime, for you all, there's links.
An analysis on what the demise of Al-Zawahri means for the campaign against certain forms of violent jihadist movements. Interesting here is the idea that the jihadist movement has fractured into regional dangers, and without a central leader mobilizing the regional movements, there will not be much of a threat to the United States. Of course removing one leader creates the space for another. Interesting times, alas.
My colleague and old friend Greg Hays on the apocalypse. And YES he nails the landing with the Miłosz poem “A Song on the End of the World.” Absolutely the best.
Somewhat interesting review (somewhat interesting is the most we can hope for from NPR these days, alas) of two interesting sounding books, about the history of the GOP over the past several decades looking at more than Donald Trump. Both books agree that some thing decisive happened to the GOP in the 1990s, but they disagreed about who was the major chaos Muppet: was it Newt Gingrich, as Dana Milbank suggests, or, as Nicole Hemmer says, was it Patrick Buchanan?
A powerful warning, by a Chinese thinker and citizen of the PRC, that the PRC may be getting high on its own supply. I think it is.
A bit of background on the empirics here.
And a bit of push-back from a more official voice from the PRC government.
And this piece, from a China expert in the US, suggests there is a growing disparity between the story China tells its own people and how the rest of the developed world sees it:
There now is an active debate in the United States over whether China’s power is peaking or ascending. In a recent closed-door workshop of China experts I co-hosted, views were evenly divided on this question.
Not unrelated: Gaming out the possibilities of a China attack on Taiwan. No one can really be certain, but it would be very costly, in terms of material military forces.
Also not unrelated: Reflection on the U.S. Navy’s recently published strategic guidance, which is trying to imagine the obligations of the Navy incoming decades. Because of the intimate relationship between the navy’s peacetime duties and its potential wartime duties, and because of it perpetually global activities, this has interest far beyond its interest about the Navy; it is something like a first draft of the United States’s overall geostrategic vision of global dominance in coming decades.
And this—this is an exceptionally good podcast about the history of China’s economy and society over the past 500 years. This sociologist—Ho-Fung Chung—is terrifically lucid & clear about what has happened in this time, using both history & social theory. Really good about the 18th 19th and most of the 20th centuries, in fact.
I missed this when it came out, but it’s very good, especially now in light of certain responses to the “Inflation Reduction Act” that Biden is signing this week; responses that say it won’t do anything. Effectively, such responses have forgotten what politics is all about. This review makes the case that the movie “Don’t look Up” forgot about politics as well:
“In the film’s populist, polemical account of the ecological crisis, there is no genuine technical or logistical obstacle to neutralizing the threat, no need for Americans to tolerate significant disruptions to their existing way of life, no vexing question of global redistribution, no compelling benefits from ongoing carbon-intensive growth, and thus no rational or uncorrupted opponent of timely climate action. Don’t Look Up casts the conflict between minimizing climate risk and maximizing near-term economic growth as one pitting the interests of billionaires against those of everyone else — or, in a few moments, as one pitting Americans’ base interest in retail therapy against their repressed longing for a less materialistic and more communitarian way of life. This is a narrative fit for winning the retweets of middle-class American liberals but not for understanding the world we live in or the forces threatening to end it.”
That's all, folks. Good day!