Former UN Ambassador John Bolton warns in today’s Wall Street Journal that “Beijing’s truculence,” deserves a (surprise!) “firm” U.S. response. Bolton argues that China is dragging its feet or becoming downright obstinate in its foreign policy, and also urges the Obama administration to confront Beijing over its increasingly (in Bolton’s view) repressive domestic policies. He singles out President Obama for speaking softly about China’s shenanigans on the high seas, urging public and private declarations of America’s intentions “so that all other nations understand our resolve.” Along the way, however, Bolton—now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—gives uncharacteristic, but not unnatural, props to Hillary Clinton, as well as Google and General Electric for standing up to Beijing on issues ranging from territorial rights to censorship to foreign investment. Speaking of government censorship, former deputy homeland security adviser Richard Falkenrath in the New York Times is applauding the United Arab Emirate’s ban on BlackBerry service over Research in Motion’s refusal to modify their “information architecture” to allow authorities to listen in on communications. Falkenrath says the suspension of service is even viewed with “a touch of envy” by the FBI and homeland security officials.
And since the Middle East is always in our sights, Daily Star opinion editor Michael Young takes the opportunity presented by the recent clash between Lebanon and Israel to note that Iran and Syria are jockeying for position and influence in Lebanese politics and foreign policy, with Damascus pressuring Beirut to scuttle the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Young’s Wall Street Journal piece echoes other recent warnings that the border scuffle could explode into regional conflict. And while we’re talking about Israel, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen takes The Economist to task for its recent favorable review of a biography of Sayyid Qutb, “the father of Islamic fundamentalism.” Cohen calls the magazine’s silence regarding Qutb’s anti-Semitism “puzzling and troublesome,” and warns that the line separating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism “is becoming increasingly blurred.”