Busy Days

Lecturing to the Australian Defence Force Academy tonight, via the miracle of Video Conference, and then taking part in a conference on War and Orientalism in Oxford for the rest of the week. So apologies for lack of posts.

Just quickly: go read Peter Beinart’s recent piece in Time, about how the US financial crisis is undermining its power. It makes the basic but often overlooked point that for all the neat-sounding phrases of ‘smart power’ and ‘soft power’, all power rests on hard foundations. Even the attraction of a state’s culture does:

The financial crisis has undermined the prestige of America’s economic model at the very moment that China’s authoritarian capitalism is rising. A decade ago, poor governments hungry for trade and aid had no choice but to show up in Washington, where they received lectures about how to make their economies resemble America’s. Now they can get twice the money and half the moralizing in Beijing. From Iran to Burma to Sudan, the Obama Administration’s charm offensive has been undermined by China’s cash offensive.

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