What I've Been Reading
Here are a few recent articles that I found to be quite interesting.
1. The first is from Reason magazine:
When Trade War Threatens Real War
Biden is blurring the lines between economic policy and military action.
This excerpt caught my eye:
But the Biden administration is building on the Trump administration’s attempts to blur that line. Some former Trump administration officials are giving cover to the effort. In an October interview with The New York Times, the Trump-era national security adviser Matt Pottinger not only echoed Sullivan’s framing of the U.S.-China relationship as one where America must maintain “as large of a lead as possible” but argued that doing so will mean actively inhibiting China’s technological advancement.
“The Biden administration understands now that it isn’t enough for America to run faster—we need to actively hamper the [People’s Republic of China]’s ambitions for tech dominance,” Pottinger said. “This marks a serious evolution in the administration’s thinking.”
For such officials, it is no longer enough for trade to make America more prosperous. They think it’s at least equally important to prevent certain other countries from prospering too. It’s an inherently militaristic outlook, one that views the entire global economy as part of a battlefield.
2. In the past, I’ve tried to explain the difference between patriotism and nationalism. The Economist has an article on European sports that illustrates the difference:
For years politicians of the hard right in France grumbled about the national football team being, in their chauvinist eyes, not quite French. Many of its most dazzling stars hailed from the banlieues, sporting names like Zinedine and Karim.
French patriots root for the French team. French nationalists root for players that share their ethnicity.
3. People used to roll their eyes when I suggested that anti-smoking regulations were the first step toward an outright ban. Now the bans are beginning to happen. The UK is copying New Zealand’s decision to gradually phase in a total ban on cigarettes. The Economist points out that the nanny state is a good example of how political power corrupts:
This intoxicating mix of ease, price and instant legacy means even libertine politicians become statist in power. For years Boris Johnson, a former editor of the Spectator, took aim at the fusspot nature of New Labour. It was the inalienable right of an Englishman to stuff his face with chocolate, crisps and cheese if he so chose. “Face it: it’s all your own fat fault”, ran one of his columns in 2004. But once in power, it was Mr Johnson who pushed an anti-obesity scheme that would ban daytime advertising of junk food. Outside a few columnists and the occasional Tory mp, there are few libertarians in British politics.