As Barack Obama started his second term in office and Xi Jinping assumed power in March, renewed debates emerged about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations, still perceived as the two greatest competitors for hegemonic status in international affairs. However, the reevaluation of this critical relationship has in fact known successive rounds. With the shock of the recession, the economic scramble for Africa (both Xi Jinping and Obama visited Africa earlier this year with grand investment plans) and not least the agitation that China feels is instigated by the United States in South East Asia, the relations between the two countries have reached occasional strains. This relationship has also been punctuated by a few frictional episodes such as accusations of cyber spying against Beijing or inescapable dilemmas over environmental issues (both fearing that unilateral reductions of CO2 emissions would slow down their economies and reduce the leverage of one against the other). Such moments added further conundrums to this critical relationship and scholars and policy analysts alike have been keen to propose their forecasts. In the field of international relations, the scholarly explanations for U.S.-Chinese relations are commonly divided among realists, liberals and constructivists, and ranging from pessimistic to optimistic scenarios. Realists predict inescapable security dilemmas and power balancing arising between the two countries, further complicated by regional dynamics and the possession of nuclear weapons by both. On a more optimistic note, the liberal argument stresses the economic interests and institutional connections between the two countries (including membership in international organizations) as enablers of trust and cooperation. The pacifying potential of economic interdependence as well as the a priori assumption that the two countries would act as rational actors are hypothesized as factors for cooperative and peaceful relations. Constructivists frame this relation in terms of the learning process the two countries undergo and the shifting norms that can occur with repeated interactions and elites socialization. In this ongoing debate, practice often precedes theory, so the dose of optimism and pessimism about U.S.-Chinese relations varies as events unfold. However, the relations between the United States and China can be best described in the long run in the framework of symbiotic realism, which provides an analytical framework for international relations in an anarchic world of instant connectivity and interdependence. Competition, the pursuit of interests and power have been perennial features of international politics and it would be hopelessly utopian to assume the opposite, even in a context of economic and financial interdependence. Yet, interdependence and connectivity do play a crucial role in shaping actors’ behavior, compelling them to assess their foreign affairs with pragmatism.
Safeguarding privacy in the United States
He said he did not know if any Americans were involved in the Nairobi attack, as the group has claimed. Al-Shabab is on the defensive inside Somalia due to the combined efforts of Somali, Ethiopian, and international forces, and the group is losing the ability to fight militarily or hold large amounts of territory, Mohamud said, but they are still very capable of attacking soft targets and using terror tactics to kill innocents. The Shabab is losing ground and they are not in a position right now militarily to take new territories. They are on the run, he said. But their threat is not yet finished. They have still training camps. They have bomb factories in very remote areas Even if we defeat Shabab militarily completely, thats not the end of the war with Shabab. They will continue suicide bombs, roadside bombs; this will go on for some time. In Washington, Mohamud met with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and leading lawmakers including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). He asked them all to increase support for Somalias government by providing training and equipment to the Somali military, but also by providing support for state building and civil society development so the government can establish presence and credibility in the rural areas vulnerable to al-Shababs influence. Anyone who belongs to that ideology is an enemy of Somalia. The Somali government controls the capital of Mogadishu, but other large areas remain out of its control, including a major port city and two of the three key bridges that link eastern Somalia to western Somalia, the president said. The strength of al-Shabab lies in their ability to project a relatively small amount of firepower over a large distance.
For reasons similar to the ones Mr. Raul noted, in 1999 the Clinton White House created a position of chief counselor for privacy, as part of the Office of Management and Budget, to work with executive-branch agencies to ensure that privacy considerations were taken into account. As an example, the White House supported our efforts to implement privacy-impact assessments of all information to be collected by its agencies. Before collecting and using information on a U.S. citizen, an agency would first have to demonstrate that it would be relevant to the agencys mission and that it would be accurate, timely and complete. Such language echoed the language and spirit of the Privacy Act of 1974 , a law enacted in the shadow of Watergate. The first two agencies to voluntarily adopt this privacy-impact assessment approach were the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The privacy-impact assessment was made applicable to all executive-branch agencies through the E-Government Act of 2002. These events obviously predate Sept. 11, 2001, and the terrorism threats we now face. Under such circumstances, the democratic ideals that safeguard the privacy of our citizens are most tested. The solutions were in place and can easily be resurrected through conscientious, responsible implementation. Mr. Raul is right: There is a need to act now. Peggy Irving, Arlington Charlene Wright Thomas, Fort Washington The writers were, respectively, privacy advocate and deputy privacy advocate at the Internal Revenue Service from 1999 to 2002.