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Week in Review


The big news this week was the coup-that-wasn’t-a-coup in Egypt. We wrote about what this news might mean for US-Egypt relations and for the spread of democracy in an essay:

It’s likely that the non-coup will lure some Egyptian money back into the country, but if violence continues and Islamist terrorists foment disorder and attack, for example, tourists, bad things can happen fast. Egypt is much closer to being a basket case than it is to becoming a democracy.

Less study of the fine print of the Egyptian constitution, more concern about a strategically important country headed over Niagara Falls in a bucket, please.

Beyond that, we need a fundamental rethink of our approach to the promotion of democracy abroad. It is neither racist nor orientalist nor any other ugly thing to say that different societies around the world are at different degrees of readiness for the rise of genuine democratic institutions. Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not going to be building modern states anytime soon, much less democratic ones. China seems closer to building a stable and working democracy than Egypt is, and the obstacles facing democracy in China are immense and intimidating. […]

The low hanging fruit has been picked; the fruit higher up in the tree isn’t ripe, or has been pecked by the birds. In many places, the “irresistible tide” has rolled back. In others, the clear streams of liberal revolution have been polluted and fouled by ethnic and religious hate.

Asia’s Game of Thrones turned in to a Game of Ports this week, after China attempted to hijack an Indian port development project in Iran. Tensions on the Korean peninsula could be easing, as North and South Korea agreed to sit down at the negotiating table. China had a couple of energy setbacks this week: first, one of its biggest wind turbine manufacturers announced the closing of four of its international subsidiaries, and then it was reported that China will likely fall woefully short of its self-imposed shale energy extraction targets.

There wasn’t much in the way of good news in Europe this week. Two high-profile Portugese ministers resigned in protest of austerity measures the country has been forced to endure for the past two years as a result its €78 billion bailout. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was booted from France’s most important constitutional body for overspending in the 2012 campaign, though allegations that Sarkozy accepted money from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in his 2007 campaign are the more serious (though still unproven) of his campaign finance indiscretions. The EU finally voted to go ahead with a plan to “fix” its broken carbon market, but even if this new strategy is successful, the continent will lose. A governing party leader in Turkey blamed domestic unrest on the Jews, and though he denied the initial report, a video was released seeming to confirm that he spouted this ugly, delusional nonsense.

Thanks in part to cheap shale gas, Mexico is on the cusp of a manufacturing boom that could have it replacing China as the go-to maker-of-things. But shale isn’t just fueling North American economies, it’s displacing dirty-burning coal, and though many environmentalists might cringe to hear it, fracking ought to be considered “green.” But to keep up with our newfound glut of shale energy, the US needs to expand pipeline infrastructure; in the meantime, companies are getting creativity in bringing their product to market, and the oil shipping business is booming in the Gulf of Mexico.

In education news, Oregon is mulling an innovative new way to help students pay for college. Meanwhile, Louisiana is readying a radical overhaul of its public education system by refocusing on making its students career-ready. We need to continue to rethink how we educate our young people, but especially how we teach boys, who are being penalized in schools for exhibiting traits characteristic of their gender.

Health care is also in need of reform, though our current stab at that isn’t going so well. Obamacare’s employer mandate was delayed for a year, and we wrote an essay detailing everything you need to know about this development. The Affordable Care Act is already on shaky ground, and news that the old and sick might swamp the ACA’s new insurance exchanges is troubling. But at least our health care system is creating jobs—lots and lots of jobs.

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