This is getting to be quite a clear out at the White House. Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff is going; so is Larry Summers, the chief economic adviser. And now today we get news that Jim Jones, the head of the National Security Council, is also being replaced. That means there will be new people in the three most important staff jobs in the White House. Part of the spin in all three cases is that they are knackered, after two intensive years in the White House. I wonder what that says about Obama himself, who presumably has also been working quite hard?
I think the Nobel committee should be applauded for their courage in giving the peace prize to Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese dissident. Last year’s award to Barack Obama was silly. This year, they have got it right.
It’s important that they stick up for human rights in China at this particular moment. There have been plenty of signs, over the last couple of years, that the West has become warier of antagonising China on human-rights issues. Notoriously, Hillary Clinton explicitly downplayed the importance of human-rights in the American dialogue with China, soon after becoming Secretary of State. This American concession was gratefully pocketed by the Chinese, who have reacted to Liu’s award with characteristic grace, by denouncing it as an “obscenity”