16 January 2018   Leave a comment

The grand canal in China is an extraordinary example of engineering.  It is over 1,100 miles long and the earliest parts of the canal were built in the 5th century.  It was built to connect the city of Beijing with the southern city of Hangzhou.  It is also an example of the Chinese obsession with harnessing water power.  Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, it has built 86,000 dams, an average of one per day, including the world’s largest dam, the Three Gorges Dam.  Its control of the Tibetan Plateau also gives it control over the major rivers in Southeast and South Asia, much to the consternation of its downstream neighbors.  The Chinese are increasingly becoming more unilateral in terms of the headwaters of these rivers and controversy is building given the centrality of river resources to all nations in the region.


Van Jackson is senior lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and he has written a well-informed essay on what an attack on North Korean nuclear facilities might involved.  The level of detail is somewhat overwhelming, but nonetheless interesting.  The bottom line of his analysis is that even a well-planned attack would be highly problematic and unlikely to achieve easily any limited goals.  If an attack does occur (and at this point, the odds seem against that outcome), the essay provides a useful checklist of things to watch for in terms of assessing its effectiveness.


Paul Sagar is a lecturer in political theory in the Department of Political Economy, King’s College London, and he has written an essay on how Adam Smith’s great work, The Wealth of Nations, has been misunderstood and distorted by many who celebrate “free market” economics.  Sagar recommends that Smith is better understood as a moral philosopher and that his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is a better guide to Smith’s views.  Smith did not believe that the “invisible hand” of supply and demand would necessarily enhance social welfare.  Rather, he believed that without government intervention to curb excessive greed on the part of producers and consumers, social inequities would be aggravated.  The essay is a very good corrective to neoliberal arguments that advocate for a substantially reduced role of government in the economy.

Posted January 16, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: