Why Foreign Aid Is Dwindling

One big obstacle to aid is the politics of spending money on other nations’ problems. President Bush enjoyed a Nixon-goes-to-China credibility with conservatives, who tend to be more skeptical of foreign aid. But Obama’s low popularity among conservative voters makes it nearly impossible for him to sell an aid program to them. Reaching out in this way might feed into American stereotypes that Republicans are tougher on national security while Democrats prefer soft power.

When Lobbyists Work for Authoritarian Nations

Once the province of a few fringe players operating on the margins of Washington, lobbying for foreign countries has become big business for the most prestigious firms in D.C. According to data from the Department of Justice, the number of registrants—forms submitted by people registered to represent foreign countries—grew from about 1,800 in the first half of 2005 to 1,900 in the first half of 2009, the most recent data available.

How Obama Is Ignoring Asia

While European leaders squabbled over the right kind of deficit reduction, Barack Obama used the recent G20 summit to make a different case: that the United States is dedicated to building a closer relationship with Asia.

The Destruction of Thailand's Global Brand

For years Thailand was synonymous with images of paradise: it was a thriving democracy with a 1997 Constitution that enshrined protections for human rights. It was an economic powerhouse that posted some of the world’s highest growth rates in the 1980s and early 1990s, withstood the late ’90s Asian financial crisis, and grew by 5.3 percent in 2002 and more than 7 percent the following year, as the rebound from the crisis took shape. Investors and tourists bought into the image of a tranquil kingdom of lush beaches and mountains, welcoming people, and stable politics—a “land of smiles” so alluring, it drew more than 13 million tourists per year.

The Roots Of The Thailand Conflict

As Thailand’s protracted political crisis spirals into violence, with at least 20 people killed in the last few weeks, the protesters, the government, and many outside observers offer a similar diagnosis of the unrest: it is a class war between wealthy Bangkokians, clad in yellow, and the poor rural masses, clad in red.

The West Now Ignores Human Rights

Touring Asia in November, Barack Obama hit all the usual presidential themes, including free trade, investment, and strategic alliances, except for one: human rights. During a scripted press conference in Beijing, Obama barely mentioned it. In Shanghai he offered only mild criticism of China's Internet blocks, saying he was a "big supporter of noncensorship." Obama's nonstatements amount to a clear break from nearly three decades of U.S. policy. From its engagement with the brutal Burmese junta to its decision to avoid the Dalai Lama when he first visited Washington during Obama's tenure to its silence over the initial outbreak of protests in Iran, Obama's administration has taken a much quieter approach to rights advocacy than his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. "Conceding to China upfront doesn't buy you better cooperation further down the track," says Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch.Obama's waffling was hardly unique. Across Europe, Asia, and Latin America,...