Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, previews Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington beginning January 19 and warns against the "polemics" each country has been trading of late (over economic policies, human rights and North Korea, for example). This "escalating reciprocal demonization" would be "the worst outcome for Asia's long-term stability," but it won't be easy to avoid, Brzezinski says. America's decline is real, while China tries to tamp down "an overheated economy" and "premature triumphalism." Brzezinski suggests a "joint declaration" that outlines "the principles that should guide" future U.S.-China cooperation and hopefully "provide the framework not only for avoiding . . . a hostile rivalry but also for expanding a realistic collaboration." He calls Hu's visit "the most important top-level United States-Chinese encounter since Deng Xiaoping's historic trip more than 30 years ago," which happened under—guess who?—Brzezinksi and Carter's watch.
Turning to the Middle East, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg is surprised by "the lackadaisical coverage" of the recent bombing at a Coptic Christian church in Egypt that killed twenty-one people. He thinks the attack is a "watershed moment" for all ethnic and religious minorities in the region. He also points out that Christianity predates Islam in Egypt, having been established there in the faith's "earliest history." The Assyrian International News Agency ("news and analysis of Assyrian and Assyrian-related issues worldwide"—who knew?) reports—take it for what it's worth—that security guards suspiciously withdrew from the church an hour before the blast. And speaking of Christianity, Islam and Assyria, for a ninety-second lesson about the five thousand year history of empires in the Middle East, check this out.