Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Japan

Trident: How Important is an Independent Nuclear Deterrent?

Britain’s leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has declared his opposition to the use and possession of nuclear weapons:

Specifically, he wants to discontinue Britain’s Trident nuclear program. Trident consists of four submarines, 58 Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, and 160 thermonuclear warheads. All together, Britain has the 5th largest nuclear program in the world:

How important is this program to Britain’s security? On this issue, I think both Corbyn and his critics have oversimplified matters a bit. The role nuclear weapons play is more complicated than both hawks and doves typically acknowledge.

Read the rest of this entry »

Who is Right about Free Trade? Barack Obama vs. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

In recent weeks, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is back in the news. TPP aims to lower barriers to trade among the United States and a variety of other nations including rich countries like Japan, Canada, and Australia and developing countries like Chile, Peru, Vietnam, and Malaysia. US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has come out strongly against TPP, as has senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-VT). President Barack Obama continues to support TPP–he recently succeeded in having the agreement fast-tracked by the senate and will likely replicate that success in the house. Once TPP is fast-tracked, congress cannot debate the treaty’s contents or make amendments to it. Is TPP good for the United States? Who is right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Great Power Graphapalooza

In the course of doing my MA at the University of Chicago, I’ve had the opportunity to take a class from John Mearsheimer. Mearsheimer is one of the most widely renowned structural realists in the international relations game today. He disagrees with much of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, lamenting the US’s decision to expend its energies maintaining large military presences in regions of the world that contain no threats to the United States. Mearsheimer calls for a strategy of offshore balancing, in which the United States only intervenes in critical regions in order to prevent those regions from being dominated completely by another state. Otherwise, he recommends the US save its strength. I found myself curious today about what many of the world’s region’s power relationships might look like if the United States were to withdraw militarily and allow the powers in those regions to engage in security competition with one another, and I have taken some time to run the figures and make a vast plethora of charts to share with you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thank a Local Immigrant for Your Public Services

Regular readers may recall that I wrote about Japan’s poor birth rate earlier in the week. I engaged in a conversation with a friend of mine about the subject (here’s his view on Japan) during which I observed that Germany’s birth rate is actually slightly worse than Japan’s, yet there’s we’re all writing about Japanese birth rates rather than the German ones. I wondered why that is, and he pointed to the immigration figures–Germany gets many more move-ins than Japan does, so the birth rate crisis in Germany has not translated into a population crisis on the same scale. This has made me want to investigate to what extent the EU and US have mitigated the effects of a birth rate slowdown with immigrants, so that’s what I’m on about today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dying Civilizations: The Threat Posed by Plummeting Birth Rates

Today I ran across a piece in The Guardian about Japan’s demographic crisis. The piece, entitled “Why Have Young People in Japan Stopped Having Sex?” explores an interesting phenomenon unique to modern developed states–the tendency for birth rates to collapse as a civilization reaches higher levels of economic output. This is not a Children of Men scenario–affluent peoples are not becoming biologically infertile. Instead, we see a decreased desire on the part of citizens to have children or even to get involved in romantic relationships of any kind. What’s driving falling birth rates, and to how are they a problem? That’s my subject today.

Read the rest of this entry »