Magazine February 20, 2017, Issue

Clouds over the Pacific

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy ships transit the Pacific Ocean, November 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist First Class Michael Russell)
The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region, by Michael R. Auslin (Yale, 304 pp., $30)

It is human nature to project the past into the future. Philosophers tell us so. Florentine scribe Niccolò Machiavelli depicted adapting to changing surroundings as the foremost, and hardest, task of statesmen. For gadfly Nassim Nicholas Taleb, humanity is vulnerable to “black swans” — highly improbable events entailing mammoth consequences — precisely because people think in linear terms. What happened before, assume ordinary folk, will carry on into the indefinite future along more or less straight trend lines.

Except when it doesn’t: Then people have trouble coping. Better to play “What if?” beforehand than be caught flat-footed when the highly improbable

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Politics & Policy


Cyberia Luke Thompson’s piece on cybersecurity was quite illuminating (“Our Failed Cybersecurity Policy,” January 23). His view that cybersecurity is not politically savvy and thus becomes an issue only after a ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ We do not expect to miss Barack Obama, but we wish he’d give us a chance. ‐ Ronald Reagan first imposed the “Mexico City policy,” which blocks foreign-aid money from ...
Politics & Policy


TWILIGHT A blazing sun caught in the trees Attempts to set, but branches mesh And hold the globe. Those rays they seize Should now have been in Marrakesh. We are just little figures there, Absorbing errant ...


The Latest