January 15th, 2013
02:34 PM ET

What we're reading

By Fareed Zakaria

China’s one-child policy may have left those born under it less trusting and less trustworthy, suggests a new study reported on in the New York Times.

“In a game involving trust, test subjects were paired with anonymous partners,” the NYT said. “Player One was given 100 renminbi (about $16) and invited to pass it along to Player Two. The money would then be tripled, and Player Two could pass some of it back.”

“Players born after the one-child policy was instituted were less likely to pass money along than the older participants,” it said of the research, which appeared in Science.

Also on China, Beijing has this past week been suffering from pollution levels that are literally off the charts, James Fallows notes in The Atlantic. The U.S. embassy in the city has for some time been releasing its own readings of air pollution on a dedicated Twitter account. For several hours at the weekend, the level of PM 2.5 small-particulate pollution topped 800, putting it “beyond scale” (levels in the low 300s are considered hazardous, Fallows says).

“This is yet another reminder of a fact impossible to forget when you’re inside China but that often gets glossed over in credulous accounts of the New Chinese Century. Namely, that economic growth has come at the cost of environmental disaster,” argues Fallows.

And has counterinsurgency been dealt another blow, this time from Mali? As France steps up its military intervention against Islamist rebels there, the Washington Post’s Max Fisher suggests that following the withdrawal of additional forces from the Afghan “surge,” that “COIN” may have lost out again.

“In earlier years, the U.S. military had attempted a sort of pre-counterinsurgency in the vast Sahara region that includes northern Mali. American officers and special forces trained local counterparts who were to, as the U.S. had set out to do in Afghanistan, protect the population, take out terrorists, and combat any emerging threats from within. But the local counterparts ended up defecting, bringing their expertise (and their new equipment) over to the enemy, the New York Times reports…The collapse of the U.S.-led effort could be seen, whether rightly or wrongly, as another setback for counterinsurgency.”

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Topics: Afghanistan • China

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    China-contrary to our propaganda about association of aging population to poor growth and problems , the Chinese prospered. Fewer people offer better improvement for the Chinese as it would to the Indians , because growing population demans more resourses, more energy, more job creation and space is limited to grow more food..India was known for needing food shipments, then more people would cut more trees leading to drier land and less food production.Only technology and population control changed that vicious cycle.Our resources are limited and unlimited growth is not possible. Populations should decrease offering less stress on the land, otherwise wars will do it .
    You call it counter insurgency in Mali , I call it imperialism or colonization -you pick the term. Now , it becomes clearer , besides the oil, why NATO needed a base in Libya and used "mild persuasion" to get it, because Khadafi did not cooperate .He paid for the base with his life,oil and gold if they found it.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Fareed, had the US foreseen that its efforts could backfire? The US was in Mali and helped train government forces to tackle Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but had suspend the mission after the March coup. The US Africa Command head, Gen Carter Hamm had said he was "sorely disappointed" with the conduct of some of the US-trained Malian soldiers. who – led by the US-trained Capt Amadou Sanogo – staged the coup. Some of them had also reportedly defected to the Islamists.
    Ironically, Mali was until recently seen as a relative success story in terms of US counter-terrorism efforts in the region.

    January 16, 2013 at 8:45 am | Reply
  3. Maersk

    According to New York Times, Fareed is the most trustworthy Indian kwok zucking kwok zucker from India.

    January 17, 2013 at 1:37 am | Reply

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