Japan and South Korea: A New Beginning?

Japan and South Korea have very close alliances with the United States. They also have had diplomatic relations with each other for 50 years, not to mention considerable trade back and forth during that time. At a popular level, many Japanese are wild about Korean bulgogi and soap operas while many Koreans love Japanese sushi and anime. That doesn’t mean, however, that the two countries are...
read more

Obama: The Fairy-Tale President?

In fairy tales, the hero makes a wish. After a few trials the wish comes true, and everyone lives happily ever after. But only in this Disney version of fairy tales is wish fulfillment so straightforward. In Goethe’s modern fairy tale, a scholar dreams of knowledge and power. A stranger grants his wish, but the ambitious Faust must pledge his soul to the Devil to seal the deal. In the famous...
read more

Can a Green Asia Lead the World?

China is worried about climate change. The largest emitter of carbon in the world, producing nearly twice as much as the number two United States, is looking at a future of flooded coastal cities, creeping deserts in the north, and water shortages throughout the country. On the eve of the huge climate change meeting in Paris last week that brought together leaders of 150 countries, along with...
read more

Trump, the Islamic State, and the Cliche of Civilizations

I was listening to a German parliamentarian the other night. She was making some anodyne comments about transatlantic friendship and the importance of culture. And then she veered off to mention the recent attacks in Paris and the threat of the Islamic State. This issue, she said, required an urgent response from the “free world.” The audience murmured its approval. I never take my freedoms...
read more

Syria: Mission Possible?

Imagine this new TV series coming to HBO in 2016. The planet faces an unprecedented peril. The international community brings together a team of experts, each one with a different specialty: the scientist, the general, the computer geek, the engineer, the spook. It’s their job to avert catastrophe. In the pilot episode, we see each member of the team prepare for the new assignment. They inform...
read more