Articles by Christina Larson
Christina Larson is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine and a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation. Her reporting has brought her throughout China, as well Southeast Asia, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and Yale Environment 360 among other publications.
If you can forgive his Very Buzzy Phrases and tendency to quote himself, the Mustache's cover story for Foreign Policy is worth a read. He explains why, as the price of oil goes up, movements to promote free speech, free press, and democratic elections flounder in oil-producing countries.
When rulers know they can pump money out of the ground, there's less incentive to promote other forms of economic growth and private enterprise. And when much of the world comes begging at their doorsteps ("more oil, please"), leaders in countries such as Russia, Iran, and Nigeria feel their hands stregthened to ignore international bugaboos such as human rights. Even if the U.S. and Europe were to try to play tough cop (given history, there's ample reason to be cynical), their efforts may well be undercut by China and Russia, who openly pick fewer bones about where they do business. In short, high oil prices = less freedom.
So if the White House really wants to get serious about promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East ...
When Gale Norton announced she was stepping down as Interior Secretary, greens cheered ... until the president nominated Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne as her replacement.
Yet, at least one hopeful sign came out of last week's nomination hearings. On Thursday, Kempthorne was grilled by both Democrat and Republican senators on whether he would support George Bush's proposal to sell off select public lands (to offset the federal deficit, the official reasoning went).
But Kempthorne seemed to think it was a bad idea to hit the pawn shops with deeds to Forest Service and BLM lands. Or, more precisely, he said, "On the sale of public land for deficit reduction for operating expenses, I do not favor that." (Yes, he reserved the right to support public-land sales for other reasons.)