In the aftermath of the First World War, military theorists across the West were desperate to fashion a path around the next war’s trenches. Engineers and tacticians spent that war tinkering away on machines that promised an escape from attrition: the gas shell, the U-boat, and the armored tank were all deployed with these hopes. All were found wanting. The aeroplane was not expected to have quite the same impact. The flying contraptions of the First World War were feather-like: they were both too light for heavy ordinance and too slim for bulky fuel storage. Few of these biplanes and triplanes could penetrate deep behind enemy lines. None carried a payload capable of making a serious dent in the nearer trench works. Thus the incipient air forces of the First World War were chiefly used to reconnoiter the static defense works of the enemy—or to shoot down the enemy’s reconnoiterers. But the airmen flying and dying in Europe’s gray skies dreamed of something more.
Desmund Shum is a red billionaire. Red Roulette is his memoir, a tell all expose of his family’s climb to the summits of wealth and the foothills of power. The book describes how he and his ex-wife maneuvered to the top—and why they subsequently crashed back to earth. Their fall was as dramatic as their rise: Shum now lives in exile; his unfortunate ex now lives in prison. With nothing to lose, Shum lets loose: his memoir promises to hang Beijing’s dirty laundry for all to see. What a sight this laundry turns out to be! Read this book. Though Shum is unreliable narrator, his memoir is the best single introduction to elite Chinese life yet written.
The resignation of Beverly Gage, professor of history at Yale and director of the Brady-Johnson Grand Strategy Program, is the great brouhaha of the last weekend.
I am not a graduate of the grand strategy course, but have followed its development over the last decade and a half.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published a letter I wrote to their editor in response to Kevin Rudd’s exposition on Xi Jinping’s “Common Prosperity” campaign:
Last month’s essay “The Problem of the New Right” caused a small stir. Formal writeups have been authored by Ross Douthat, Eric Levitz, Jordan Bloom, Lars Schonander, Peter Spilakos, and Aaron Ren. On Twitter there was even more chatter about the essay, much of it critical. I have found the critiques of my piece […]
Let’s talk about the grand Slate Star Codex brouhaha. A lot of people have already written about this. Here is the original New York Times piece that started the controversy.  Against the Grey Lady we have Cathy Young, Robby Soave, Micah Meadowcroft, Matthew Yglesias, Freddie DeBoer, Scott Aaronson, Noah Smith, and Dan Drezner, as […]
Mary McAuley’s Soviet Politics: 1917-1991 is one of those rare works that marries concision with intellectual heft. Though only 123 pages in length, every page sparkles with insight. Though not a tour de force in the traditional sense, it manages to say something noteworthy about nearly every aspect of Soviet political history. Many of the […]
Image source The escalating crisis in Sino-Australian relations prompts a new piece. Foreign Policy publishes my latest under the title “Biden’s First Foreign Policy Crisis is Already Here.” I approve of the title. Not everything is about America, and I often spend my time trying to show how the moving force behind any given international […]
Image source Min Ye’s The Belt Road and Beyond: State-Mobilized Globalization in China 1998–2018 is an interesting, if dense, examination of Chinese development politics. I dislike the jargon Ye has invented to convey her ideas, but am delighted with the evidence she marshals in support of her arguments. Ye wants to focus our understanding of […]
Image Source Two weeks or so ago Liam Bright posted the following tweet: Liberal technocrats give us literally no reason at all to think their interests are aligned with the great majority of people, yet when they are attacked as a governing class they stress their credentials and competency. But it’d be worse if they’re […]