Joshua Kurlantzick

Joshua Kurlantzick is a senior correspondent at The American Prospect and a special correspondent at The New Republic. He is also a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power is Transforming the World.

Recent Articles

Trade Off

On a recent visit to China, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab hit all the familiar themes. China's massive trade surplus. Its currency, which many U.S. officials believe is purposely undervalued. But then she made an unusual request. China, Schwab declared, "can and should have a role in getting these [global] trade talks back on track." That the Bush administration now has to rely upon China to deliver global free trade negotiations is a sign of how badly trade talks have collapsed. Overshadowed by the summer war in the Middle East and the British terrorism scare, the most recent round of World Trade Organization negotiations, called the Doha round, has fallen onto life support. In all likelihood, the talks now will fail, for the first time in the history of the WTO. (There is new talk of resuming the negotiations, but nobody has set a timeline.) This is a news story of major consequence, since Doha at least offered an opportunity to make trade more equitable. But the United...

Patron State

As Havana and Miami wait for further news about the health of Fidel Castro, his long-serving deputy, younger brother Raul Castro, has emerged from the shadows. The Bush administration may believe that Raul, lacking his brother's charisma, will be only a placeholder as Cuba transitions to democracy; the administration has boosted its financial outlay on efforts to promote regime change there. As Wayne Smith, a former U.S. diplomat in Havana, told The New York Times last week, the White House's policy has changed from trying to undermine Fidel to stopping him from being replaced by Raul. But Raul could prove more powerful than Washington expects, primarily because he enjoys closer ties than Fidel with an important patron: China. The independent-minded Fidel long suffered rocky relations with Beijing, once describing revered former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as a “numbskull.” Today, Chinese officials still do not trust the more mercurial Comandante . Not so with Raul. Since the...

Indian Summer

Dharamsala, India -- The path to the Friday night Shabbat services passes some unusual landmarks. First, my Israeli acquaintance and I take a left at a horde of beggars who seem to be suffering from leprosy and are crawling on the ground on stumps of limbs. Then, we follow a rocky path past sari-clad women hauling water from a communal well until we reach a small clump of jungle, where monkeys claw scraps of garbage off the ground. Pushing through the jungle, we enter a small clearing and a makeshift building with a tarpaulin roof. Next to the shack, at least fifty worshippers welcome the Sabbath with fervent, wailing prayers. Many seem to be secular Israelis who might never have entered a synagogue at home: young men in dreadlocks and torn shirts, women with piercings and henna painted on their arms. But with their nation at war, they seek solace here, in community. For years, Dharamsala, a mountain village in remote northern India home to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan...

The Philippines: Power Outage

Manila, The Philippines -- For a man who might be jailed at any moment, Harry Roque Jr., appeared very relaxed when I met him in Manila in early March. Dressed in a white barong tagalog -- the long, delicately embroidered shirt worn untucked by Philippine men -- he welcomed me into his law office, crowded with stacks of books on Philippine constitutional law. “Three days ago, it was broadcast that I had been arrested,” he said. “Everyone was calling me, but I was still here.” A laugh boomed out of his jiggling stomach. Still, Roque was on a list of some 200 people who could be arrested at any time. In late February, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of national emergency, citing an alleged coup plot against her. In coordination with the emergency, she created lists of people, including many of her political enemies, supposedly involved in the plot; these targets could be arrested for rebellion and sedition at any time. The Philippine police also raided the...

Fear of Flying

On December 7, Rigoberto Alpizar, a 44-year-old man with a history of mental disorder, was killed, in a hail of bullets, by two air marshals at Miami International Airport. After the shooting, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said that Alpizar had run forward in the cabin while the plane was on the runway, yelling “I have a bomb in my bag!” When the marshals confronted Alpizar, the spokesman said, Alpizar ran out of the plane and on to the jetway; when he appeared to reach into his bag, the marshals shot him dead. It turned out, of course, that Alpizar had no bomb, but government officials from both parties still heaped praise on the marshals' actions. Republican Representative John Mica, head of the House Aviation Subcommittee, and the representative of Alpizar's district, told reporters, “This shows that the program has worked beyond our expectations.” “The security system worked, and this should reassure air passengers,” echoed Representative John Linder, head of one of...

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