Britannia Rules the Waves?

I have a short piece in the latest edition of Anthropology Today, discussing the prospects of the Chagos Islanders’ right to return to the British Indian Ocean Territory.  Read it here.


An international arbitration tribunal recently found the United Kingdom to have breached its obligations under international law in declaring a Marine Protected Area in the Chagos Islands (British Indian Ocean Territory). The ruling has potential implications for the indigenous people of the islands, the Chagossians, who continue to wage a political campaign for the restoration of their right of abode in Chagos. In this comment, I update readers on the tribunal’s ruling and other related current events.


Are America and China Spiraling toward War or Peace?

My book review of Lyle Goldstein Meeting China Halfway (Georgetown University Press, 2015) is now available via The National Interest.  It’s a very good book, and one that chimes well with my own research.  I had a lot of fun reviewing it.  Read the full review here.

Long gone are the days when the West’s most eminent scholars could debate whether or not China “matters” for world politics and U.S. foreign policy. China does matter—a lot. From those who argue that China is destined to “rule the world” to those who caution that China’s global influence will be limited in important ways, almost all experts agree that China’s rise will be one of the defining features of world politics in the twenty-first century. It follows that the question of how to respond to China’s rise is currently an animating puzzle of the U.S. foreign policy community. Should Washington pursue a strategy of containment towards Beijing or should the United States extend an olive branch to the world’s most powerful rising state?

How David Cameron Could Save His Legacy

My new piece for The National Interest takes a look ahead at two major challenges for Britain’s David Cameron – his promised in/out referendum on membership of the European Union, and the rise of the Scottish National party – and questions whether the prime minister is enough of a statesman to see them through.  Read it here.

Britain’s David Cameron earned himself a “rapturous” response from members of his own party following the Conservatives’ election victory earlier this month. And rightly so; his unexpected triumph made him the first Tory leader to win a majority in a UK general election since 1992. But Cameron faces some gargantuan challenges when it comes to the business of actually governing the country. To succeed, he will need to demonstrate much better leadership—indeed, much greater statesmanship—than he hitherto has been known for…

How Will We Know When China is Number One?

My piece from last year has been republished by The National Interest.  Read it here.

It has been conventional wisdom for well over a decade that China is a rising power. The statistics on China’s current size and projections about its future growth have become such clichés that they scarcely warrant repeating. Suffice to say that most observers agree that China, already the world’s most populous country and one of its military and economic powerhouses, will replace the United States as the world’s largest economy at some point mid-century. The implied corollary is that, if unstopped either by external pressure or internal fissure, China inexorably is set to replace the United States as the world’s dominant military and geopolitical force in due course. Pax Sinica impends…

Thatcher’s Britain Lives On

There are so many take-away points from last night’s UK election: the SNP’s colossal victory in Scotland; the Liberal Democrats’ collapse; UKIP’s damp squib; and Labour’s miserable failure to make any progress towards government.  In my TNI blog, I offer another take-away: that Thatcher’s Britain lives on.

In some ways, Cameron has succeeded by recreating the British electoral landscape of the 1980s.  His winning manifesto was replete with Thatcherite goodies: fiscal restraint, tax cuts, a robust defense of the Union (albeit this time including a vilification of Scottish separatists rather than Irish nationalists) and a significant—even if somewhat diluted—dose of Euroscepticism.  Like Thatcher, Cameron was helped by a supportive tabloid press and a relatively impotent Labour opposition seen by many as unelectable and economically incompetent.  This was a straight choice between sensible small government and reckless tax-and-spend socialism, Cameron averred.  The English plumped for the former.

Read the piece here.

Nepal: Britain’s Friend in Need

I have a new piece on openDemocracy, charting the evolution of the Anglo-Nepalese friendship.  The piece also contains some links to websites where people can make donations towards the humanitarian relief effort.  Meanwhile, students at Earlham College are close to meeting their $10,000 fundraising goal; I encourage people to support their work.

Read my article here.

Saturday’s earthquake was a national catastrophe for Nepal, but the sheer scale of the devastation means that only a truly international response can succeed in bringing humanitarian relief to those affected. Britain in particular ought to be chief among those lending a helping hand. For, although it is easy to overlook, Britain and Nepal share something quite rare in the history of international relations: a veritable friendship between states and peoples…

Weaponized: The “China Card” Makes Its Return to U.S. Politics

My latest feature for TNI looks at U.S.-China relations, and specifically the portrayal of China in the U.S. debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

China has been “weaponized” in U.S. domestic politics. This is evident in the current debate over the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  For even though China is not a prospective member of the TPP, an incipient trade agreement among twelve Asia-Pacific nations, this has not stopped proponents and opponents of the deal alike from playing the “China card” when discussing the deal.  Not only has this tendency to weaponize China reduced the quality of debate over an important matter of public policy, but it also contributes to a growing risk that the U.S. is sleepwalking into greater confrontation with China—whether or not such confrontation is in the overall national interest…

Read the full piece here.  See also my earlier piece, “The American People Aren’t Ready for China.”