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A forum to discuss the intersections of history, behavioral science, and strategic thought, with an emphasis on East and Southeast Asian affairs.

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American Nightmares: Wang Huning and Alexis de Tocqueville’s Dark Visions of the Future

Published: March 28, 2024 01:20

There is a passage in Democracy in America that has appeared in many of my essays." In the United States,” Tocqueville reports, “there is nothing the human will despairs of attaining through the free action of the combined power of individuals."…

Christmas Day as Judgement Day

Published: January 1, 2024 19:01

To write of Christmas after December 25th is neither a sin nor a crime, but there is something untoward in my tardiness. We meet the overdue Christmas missive with the same misgiving we reserve for the rooftop that twinkles through February. Even small…

Wang Huning and the Eternal Return to 1975

Published: November 23, 2023 17:08

A few years back Ross Douthat published an interesting book titled The Decadent Society: How We Became Victims of Our Own Success. The thesis of Douthat's book is simple: American society is stagnant. Our blockbusters and our books are remakes from the…

Gaza and the Extremist’s Gambit

Published: October 31, 2023 03:51

Can strategic sense be found in "senseless" violence? This is the question I attempt to answer in a column I have out this week for Mosaic, tilted "The Extremist's Gambit Helps Explain Why Hamas Attacked Now." The piece was prompted by the many…

Soviets, Cybernetics, and China: A Reading Program

Published: July 1, 2023 02:29

Two years ago I ran a small reading group that met over zoom. Our reading topic: Leninism. Curious about the claims that modern Chinese politics are an outgrowth of Marxist ideas and practice yet feeling insufficiently familiar with the Leninist political…

Watch Xi Jinping Slowly Strangle the Dengist Economic Paradigm

Published: March 11, 2023 22:11

Xi Jinping’s decision to openly label the United States the source of China’s ills rolled through the newsletters, wire services, and commentators on China this week. Much has been written about this already; I have nothing to add. Here I call attention to…

Maoist Echoes

Published: February 28, 2023 22:09

In an essay published in 2018, Geramie Barme recommends observers of US-China relations read through five pieces that Hu Qiaomu and Mao Zedong published in 1949 under the latter's name. The five pieces were Mao's response to Dean Acheson's China White…

The Lights Wink Out in Asia

Published: February 2, 2023 20:44

Japan's 2022 National Security Strategy concludes with a dramatic pronouncement: At this time of an inflection point in history, Japan is finding itself in the midst of the most severe and complex security environment since the end of WWII. In no way can…

Every Book I Read in 2022

Published: February 1, 2023 03:56

My annual list of books arrives a bit later than usual. However, this delay is in some ways fortunate. Now my list will not be seen as an extended comment on the Lex Friedman reading list discourse. Those not on Twitter will have heard little about this.…