The Great Manipulator

There is a bevy of foreign-policy related commentary in the newspapers Monday. Hong Kong-based author and economist Anatole Kaletsky has an op-ed in the New York Times, saying that currency-manipulation, currently being practiced par excellence by China and Japan, is here to stay, and also reminds “market fundamentalists” that Ronald Reagan was not above dabbling in the currency markets back in the day to promote U.S. interests.

The Washington Post also has its eyes on China. Robert Samuelson, contra Kaletsky, says a trade war is “the alternative” if China refuses to revalue the yuan and “may be the lesser of two evils.”

Fareed Zakaria and the Post’s editors discuss a “rising China”—Zakaria says rising powers, including Brazil and Turkey, are all talk when it comes to becoming “more centrally involved in the structures of power” because they are too focused on self-interest. And the editorial board worries that China’s recent behavior “looks more like 19th-century mercantilism” than benevolence.

Meanwhile, the Post is running—or rerunning?—excerpts from Bob Woodward’s book (hits store shelves today), headlining that the Pentagon “thwarted” President Obama’s attempts to find a way out of Afghanistan. James Joyner says the story line confirms what he suspected. Blake Hounshell wonders if Woodward’s portrayal of the president makes Obama look like an “insecure, armchair general.”

Also on Afghanistan, old-school Vietnam-hand Rufus Phillips warns in the Wall Street Journal that the military’s efforts to “curb corruption” could be undermined if the CIA and other civilian agencies fail to play along, which he says he experienced in Vietnam. He says keeping corrupt informants on the spy agency’s payroll is not worth the trouble and could “lose the war.”