Today's Reading Assignments
"The Challenge From China," by Mark Helprin, senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and adapted from his recent speech at the Hoover Institution. A brief excerpt:
As we content ourselves with the fallacy that never again shall we have to fight large, technological opponents, China is transforming its forces into a full-spectrum military capable of major operations and remote power projection. Eventually the twain shall meet. By the same token, our sharp nuclear reductions and China's acquisitions of ballistic-missile submarines and multiple-warhead mobile missiles will eventually come level. The China that has threatened to turn Los Angeles to cinder is arguably more cavalier about nuclear weapons than are we, and may find parity a stimulus to brinkmanship. Who will blink first, a Barack Obama (who even now blinks like Betty Boop) or a Hu Jintao?
Also recommended is Bret Stephens' latest Global View column, "From Lebanon to Hezbollahstan." As he writes:
Future historians will look for the precise moment the Lebanese Republic began to transmogrify into Hezbollahstan. Was it the June 2005 murder of anti-Syrian journalist Samir Kassir – the earliest sign that Syria, whose 29-year military occupation of its neighbor had ended just two months before, intended to reinsert itself by stealth and terror (and with the connivance of Hezbollah)? Was it the role played by the Maronite Gen. Michel Aoun, a hero of the last Lebanese civil war, who returned from exile in 2005 intending to play the part of de Gaulle only to become, after striking a bargain with Hezbollah, another Pétain?
Was it the summer war of 2006, when Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah militarily and, in so failing, gave Hezbollah an aura of invincibility? Was it the unwillingness of international peacekeepers to patrol the Lebanese-Syrian border, thereby allowing Hezbollah to rearm itself after the war? Was it the absence of an effective, or even intelligible, American policy toward Lebanon, epitomized by Condoleezza Rice's decision to rehabilitate Damascus by inviting it to November's Annapolis Middle East conference?
The answer is all of the above: An accumulation of policy mistakes, political dodges and moral atrocities that have nearly killed the "new" Lebanon in its crib.
Festering problems, in opposite corners of the world, waiting for the next administration. And sadly, there are grave doubts about the ability of any of the presidential candidates to address these challenges.