Assorted links for July 29, 2018

🔗 Steven Pinker’s case for optimism (The Economist) >Mr Pinker’s best-known previous book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, showed that humankind has grown less violent. His new one demonstrates that steady, cumulative progress is occurring on many fronts. For this he credits the values of the 18th-century Enlightenment, summarised by Immanuel Kant as “Dare to understand!” By applying reason to problems, people can solve them—and move on to the next. Trade and technology spread good ideas, allowing rich countries to grow richer and poor ones to catch up.

🔗 Mike Pence, Holy Terror (NYT) >To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Trump doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.

🔗 China’s Global Building Spree Runs Into Trouble in Pakistan (WSJ) >Three years into China’s program here, Pakistan is heading for a debt crisis, caused in part by a surge in Chinese loans and imports for projects like the Orange Line, which Pakistani officials say will require public subsidies to operate.

🔗 How the Obama administration watched the demise of Arab democracy — and paved the way for Trump’s embrace of dictators (NYT) >In a White House meeting the day after Mr. Morsi’s ouster — two days after that last phone call — Mr. Obama yielded to those views when he accepted the military takeover. In doing so, he had taken a first step toward the policies that have become the overriding principles of the Trump administration.

🔗 Henry Kissinger: ‘We are in a very, very grave period’ (FT)

David Wogan @wogan
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