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Clinton snub marks new Sino-US rivalry

Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping's snub of visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Beijing's harsh rebuff to soft US criticism on the Syrian crisis underlines China's increasingly assertive stance towards its sole competitor for global influence. China now has the clout to back up strong words, helped by a decade establishing economic ties around the world rather than building costly military bases. - Brendan O'Reilly (Sep 6, '12)

Still in search of the American dream
Former US president Bill Clinton all but single-handedly sealed President Barack Obama's re-election with a meticulous deconstruction of Republican "issues" at the Democratic Party convention. On two key questions the campaign raises - is the US is better off now than four years ago and is Obama just a cog in the infernal machine? - there's no possible positive spin. - Pepe Escobar (Sep 6, '12)

Karzai culture spreads disillusionment
The international community's failure to pressure the Hamid Karzai government over its refusal to decentralize power has spawned a culture of unaccountability that is fueling the insurgency as disillusionment spreads among average Afghans. If the West can expand elected government and help democracy mature, it could yet rescue its Afghan legacy.
- Inge Fryklund (Sep 6, '12)

How to make more Singaporean babies
Concerns that dipping birth rates in Singapore spell demographic doom for the city-state have seen the government invite ideas from the public about how to encourage people to have children. While some critics say healthy economic growth has led people to put off parenthood to focus on their careers, others blame the high-pressure education system.
- Kalinga Seneviratne (Sep 6, '12)

Nearer the Church, farther from birth goals
As Philippines President Benigno Aquino garners support for a reproductive bill that would offer contraceptive options against the teachings of the Catholic Church, a minority of lawmakers are determined to filibuster. Meanwhile, unintended pregnancies and maternal mortality rates keep on rising.
- Marwaan Macan-Markar (Sep 6, '12)

Palestinian refugees from Syria betrayed
In the 64 years since the Nakba, the exodus from their homeland after the establishment of the State of Israel, the plight of Palestinian refugees has been a non-stop talking point for Arab leaders. Their actions, however, have been far less resonant than their words, as demonstrated most recently by the cruel fate of Palestinians fleeing the civil war in Syria to Jordan and Lebanon. - Ramzy Baroud (Sep 6, '12)

Security vs liberty: competition or conflict?
The raft of anti-terror measures Europe has taken to stay in step with post-9/11 US efforts highlight the inherent tensions between security concerns and civil rights. Once a champion of human rights and data protection, the scant resistance Brussels has shown to US demands suggests it has abandoned founding EU principles. - Hossein Aghaie (Sep 6, '12)

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Netanyahu mulls a Six-Day War surprise
A military reshuffle in Israel, previously delayed amid preparations for attacking Iran, has added to speculation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is listening to advice to postpone a confrontation until 2013. However, surprise preemptive strikes - as launched in the 1967 Six-Day War - are emblematic of the country's military doctrine, and top-brass machinations could yet soften the watchfulness of enemies. - Victor Kotsev (Sep 5, '12)

Dempsey muscle may yet force rethink
Military muscle, in the shape of US General Martin Dempsey, has given the White House more traction to distance itself from Israel's warlike stance on Iran. The warning that the US won't be complicit in a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, and a Republican refusal to place Iran near the center of its election strategy, is forcing Israel to rethink its campaign of belligerence. - Jim Lobe and Gareth Porter (Sep 5, '12)

base bonanza

A reminder of the profligate madness of war comes with news that to withdraw US combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the US military may have to send in extra troops to sort out the logistics for more than $60 billion worth of equipment in its vast network of bases. It's not so much an urge but a surge to depart. - Nick Turse (Sep 5, '12)

Taiwanese frigate captures Chinese cadre
Chinese Vice Transport Minister Xu Zuyuan last week made history by boarding a Taiwanese frigate in a joint maritime search and rescue drill. After Taiwanese activists upset the United States-Japanese alliance by sailing to disputed East China Sea islands, the photo-opportunity created by the exercise gives Beijing further excuse to cast doubts on Washington's role as Taipei's guarantor of security. - Jens Kastner (Sep 5, '12)

'Teachable moments' loom in Syrian conflict
The Western strategy in Libya of low cost, low intensity, illegitimate warfare combined with aggressive nuclear posturing is likely to be pursued in Syria, though the former devastated Libya's infrastructure and divided it along tribal and ethnic lines. With international stakeholders not to be trusted and Damascus still delivering relative stability, delegating political influence offers a better long-term chance of discouraging violence. - Christof Lehmann (Sep 5, '12)

Myanmar reform on a familiar track
As Western countries cheer reform efforts in Myanmar, internal critics see the process as a cynical culmination of the "seven-step roadmap" drawn up by the military regime before President Thein Sein took power through elections. The plan, which envisions the emergence of a "genuine and disciplined democratic system", guarantees the safety of ex-junta generals involved in widespread human rights abuses while opening the country to foreign investment. - Saw Yan Naing (Sep 5, '12)

Chinese, overseas ... and insecure
The remarkable rise in the number of Chinese projects and workers overseas, notably in Africa, brings a concomitant increase in the security risk facing company property and individuals. The government in Beijing must tread softly - and brave domestic claims of weakness - or take a stronger stance that would bring charges of "imperialism". - Jacob Zenn (Sep 5, '12)

Germany is a euro victim
The euro crisis has pushed Germany into an increasingly dominant position in Europe, yet by its own past and current global standards the country's economic performance during the euro years has weakened. Germany has been the loser, not the winner in an iniquitous reallocation of capital. - Gunnar Beck (Sep 5, '12)

Calling the China-Russia spilt isn't heresy
Beijing is not amused at the Kremlin's refusal to reciprocate over the United States' "pivot" in the Asia-Pacific, especially since returns from its diplomatic support for Moscow's embattled ally in Damascus are expected. The symbolism of Russia hosting the Vietnamese president and the Japanese foreign minister in quick succession in July was not lost on China either - and so the Sino-Soviet chill now descending is a far easier call than in cold days of the 1950s, when such forecasts were greeted as acts of heresy.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Sep 4, '12)

US complicit in Israel war plans for Iran
Top US generals like Martin Dempsey are adamant that they do not want to be held "complicit" if Israel attacks Iran in a unilateral strike. But by giving Israel the military means to do just that, the claims ring hollow. Seen from Tehran, the attempt to jettison itself out of the equation - to protect its forces in the region - is actually an inducement to strike, much as it is interpreted in Israel and the West as a sign of US disapproval. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Sep 4, '12)

Nuclear fuel bank or nuclear graveyard?
A plan to build a low-enriched uranium fuel bank in East Kazakhstan province under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency is being enthusiastically promoted by the government. While the country's nuclear past makes it a good choice to host the facility, some suspect darker purposes. - Zhulduz Baizakova

China, Europe export
gangsters to Africa

Recent police shootings of striking miners in South Africa who had been seeking better pay have underscored the role of European firms in the exploitation of workers. At the same time, there is little to differentiate Chinese and European organized crime in Africa. - Emanuele Scimia

India's coal output failure
An independent audit has uncovered massive mismanagement of India's coal sector, but even this indictment does not reveal the whole picture, which is black indeed. While demand for electricity soars, production of coal, the predominant fuel for generating power, has stagnated. - Siddharth Srivastava

Jackson Hole and 'Risk 3'
The word "bubble" is nowhere to be found in Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's paper delivered at Jackson Hole. Yet the Fed is once again accommodating a government finance bubble, creating today's prevailing - potentially catastrophic - policy risk.
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

TONY ALLISON (1953-2012)
Asia Times Online's Editor-in-Chief Anthony Allison died on June 20 after a short illness. We extend our sympathy to Tony's family for their tragic and premature loss.



Beware of US adulations
It wouldn’t have been difficult at all for the Washington Post reporter to get the apt quotations to embellish his highly critical piece on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. What matters is the overall disenchantment of the American media with the PM...
- M K Bhadrakumar

Modern pioneers of 21st-century finance view their victims through the same prism of condescending contempt as their predecessors, who were convinced that social Darwinism and God's grace preordained their acquisition of wealth, by fair means or foul.
H Campbell
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Netanyahu mulls a Six-Day War surprise

2. Dempsey muscle forces Israeli rethink

3. US complicit in Israel war plans for Iran

4. Afghanistan's base bonanza

5. Taiwanese frigate captures Chinese cadre

6. 'Teachable moments' loom in Syrian conflict

7. Calling the China-Russia split isn't heresy

8. Chinese, overseas and insecure

9. Myanmar reform takes familiar road

10. Germany: Euro victim, not winner

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Sep 5, 2012)


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