Why is this interesting? - The Evan Osnos Edition

On train accidents, nuclear war in North Korea, and the relationship between China and the United States

It’s the week of July 4th, which means lots of people are on vacation (including me). To lighten the load a bit, we’re going to be going with a format change for this week. Each day we will briefly highlight one of our favorite New Yorker writers and 3-4 pieces you should read. We’re also going to skip July 4th, as we assume many of you will be too busy with hot dogs and beer to read the day’s edition. We’ll be back the week of July 8th with our regular programming. - Noah (NRB)

Noah here. In case you haven’t got enough backed up in your Pocket/Instapaper, today’s edition highlights a few pieces from Evan Osnos. Having spent eight years living in Beijing (and publishing a book about it), many of his pieces focus on Asia, including the three I’ve chosen. Also, as a note, our WITI politics ban is domestic only, so I’ve focused on Osnos’ geopolitical coverage.

  • Boss Rail. October 15, 2012. The New Yorker. CJN highlighted this piece in WITI 6/20 - The Micro-Kleptocracy Edition. It tells the story of a horrific train crash in China and the machinations that led to it.

  • The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea. September 7, 2017. The New Yorker. A deep dive into the North Korean nuclear situation. This anecdote has stuck around my head: "In recent talks, when Americans have asked whether any combination of economic and diplomatic benefits, or security guarantees, could induce Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons, the answer has been no. North Koreans invariably mention the former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. In 2003, when Qaddafi agreed to surrender his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, Bush promised others who might do the same that they would have an ‘open path to better relations with the United States.’ Eight years later, the U.S. and NATO helped to overthrow Qaddafi, who was captured, humiliated, and killed by rebels. At the time, North Korea said that Qaddafi’s fall was ‘a grave lesson” that persuading other nations to give up weapons was “an invasion tactic.’”

  • Making China Great Again. January 1, 2018. The New Yorker. A good piece on Chinese-American relations and the opportunity China sees to step into a global leadership position as the United States pulls back from playing that role.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)