You can count on a few things during the U.N.'s annual General Assembly. The traffic will be bad, the speeches will be worthy (if a bit dull)—and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will say something absurd. This year the Iranian leader suggested that U.S. officials orchestrated the 9/11 attacks to save Israel and "reverse the declining American economy."
Robert Gates's latest efforts at reforming the Pentagon are modest. He is not trying to cut the actual defense budget; he merely wants to increase efficiency while reducing bureaucracy, waste, and duplication. The savings he is trying to achieve are perfectly reasonable: $100 billion over five years, during which period the Pentagon will spend approximately $3.5 trillion.
The idea that the average American is overtaxed is a nice piece of populist pandering. In fact, federal taxes as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest level since the presidency of Harry Truman. The simple fact is this: all the Bush tax cuts were unaffordable.
"What happened in Kampala is just the beginning!" So warned Abu Zubayr, the leader of Al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the bombings in the Ugandan capital that killed more than 70 people who had gathered to watch the World Cup soccer final. In the bombings' wake, Al-Shabab has drawn renewed attention for its murky links to Al Qaeda, and analysts once again are warning that failed states are a mortal threat to American national security.
The American economy is sputtering, and we are running out of options. Interest rates can't go any lower. Another burst of government spending—whether a good or bad idea—looks politically impossible. Is there anything that could protect us from the dangers of stagnation or a double dip?
China has seen dramatic labor protests in recent weeks, from strikes at a Honda factory to grim accounts of suicide at the vast Foxconn complex, where iPhones are assembled. One scholar calls this "the end of the world-factory model," under which China would be the globe's low-wage manufacturer.