World City Rhapsody

The New York Times is running a posthumous op-ed on the virtues of New York City by Tony Judt, the New York University professor who died in August of ALS. Comparing NYC to other past great "world cities," (London, Paris and Vienna—each of which he had lived in), Judt says it is distinguished by its diversity in such close quarters and its "outward" outlook, which makes the city "attractive to people who would not feel comfortable further inland." Judt also claims that it's better to live in a "world city" when it is "past its peak," as he believes New York (and America) is. It is "at twilight," he writes, that these cities' "minor virtues come into focus: people spend less time telling you how fortunate you are to be there." He also thinks NYC might "do better still" in decline because it is "a city more at home in the world than in its home country."

In the Washington Post, former–State Department adviser David Pollock takes the opportunity of President Obama's visit to Mumbai and New Delhi to talk about the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan nexus. "Accomodating Pakistani interests is essential to U.S. national interests in Afghanistan," he writes, and one way to do so would be to encourage New Delhi to "lower" its "profile in Afghanistan."

Meanwhile, Post columnists Jackson Diehl and Robert Samuelson take on the other two major powers in the region: Russia and China. Diehl shakes his head at President Obama's "weak" support for imprisoned Russian oil-magnate-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Samuelson says the point of the current G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea is to set the stage for a "global rebalancing" whereby the spenders (led by the United States) stop spending so much and the savers (with China at the forefront) stop saving so much. But no matter what happens at the meeting, the rebalancing "won't happen" unless China gets on board. And, in Samuelson's view, it's shaping up to be a "dogfight" instead.

Back in the Western Hemisphere, Wall Street Journal pundit Mary Anastasia O'Grady has something to say about Argentina in the wake of the death of former president and erstwhile power broker Néstor Kirchner. Despite the initially positive investor reaction, O'Grady finds little indication that "Argentina's economy will begin to modernize any time soon." The problem? Big Labor—which O'Grady warns is making a comeback in the States, too.