The next meeting will be Friday, October 3rd, at 10.30 am., when we will resume our old location in the Javits room, library 2nd floor. The topic will be "Voter Decision Making in the 2008 Presidential Election"
Professor Stanley Feldman heads the political psychology division of the Political Science Department. The division focuses on public opinion, political attitudes and ideology, and political participation. He has served on the boards of the National Science Foundation, the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research , and throughout his career, the editorial boards of six academic journals.
Professor Leonie Huddy is director of the departmental Center for Survey Research. Listeners to WCBS on election nights are familiar with her analysis of incoming election returns.
Co-chair Karl Bottigheimer announced the passing of Bernard Semmel, long time member of his own department of History. A memorial service was held in New Haven on Saturday September 6th. Another will follow at Stony Brook later this semester.
Co-chair Howard Scarrow then introduced his former Political Science colleague, Ambassador Harsh Bhasin (for a partial list of Dr Bhasin's diplomatic assignments see last month's newsletter). Harsh made time to address us in spite of a hectic beginning-of-semester schedule in which he was recently made the new chair of the Asian and Asian-American Studies Department.
He described himself as a "sandwich generation" member, (like many of us) in that his parents and siblings come from one country while his offspring are Americans. Since he speaks the principal languages of India, China, and the US he is able to communicate with some 3/4 of the global population (This didn't prevent the wife of a French diplomat demanding to know if he didn't care about the other 1/4!).
He characterized these three countries as the predominant contenders (to retain or attain) superpower status, and his talk examined their interaction in pairs over the last 50 years before coming to a conclusion of where the tripartite relationship might be headed into the future.
US - India: At the outset this relationship was cold because of India's leadership of the non-aligned movement during the cold war. J. Foster Dulles went so far as to call non-alignment immoral! The nadir was reached at the time of the Bangladesh breakoff and the Indo-Pakistan war when the US (and China) leaned heavily toward Pakistan. At this time India felt threatened by nuclear powers on all sides and determined to conclude the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty and develop its own nuclear capability. After the end of the cold war the US warmed to India because of shared democracy, an opened up free economy, and a shared perception of threat from Jihadi terrorism.
India-China: Initially India was the only non-communist country to recognize the government in Beijing and champion its ascent to the UN security council. But the Dalai Lama seeking asylum in India and China taking control of the Indian province lying between Tibet and China (Aksai Chin), led to the 1962 Indo-China war. Nowadays there is closer cooperation between the two nations but India resents the ingratitude implied by China's current opposition to India's own application for UN security council membership.
US - China: The hostility caused by Chinese communism and the Koren War was eventually softened by the Nixon rapproachment (part of Kissinger's plan to widen the Sino-Soviet rift). Nowadays relations are strained by Chinese disrespect for intellectual property, an undervalued yuan and the huge trade imbalance, and (as the NY Times reported the day of this talk) the fact that Chinese holdings of US securities have now passed the 1$ trillion mark.
Conclusion: At present rates of growth the size of the Indian population will surpass that of China by 2020, and by 2050 the world's leading economies will be China:US:India in that order. Into the future each member of the triumvirate will not want the other two to come too close to each other, and it is unlikely that any two will gang up against the third. However, the US ought to be cognizant of the degree of Chinese control over the US economy and China's demonstrated ability to destroy crucial US military satellites. In this context it makes no sense for the US to now antagonize Russia and drive it closer to Beijing (see Kissinger above).
It is no secret that our members tend to be long in the tooth, and that by extension their home heating systems, often the same. The efficiencies of old furnaces-boilers are usually in the low 60's. For example, my boiler is thought to be about 50 years old and my home heating bill for last season of $2900 easily exceeded the cost and carbon footprint of my transportation. According to the NY times, the price of home heating oil is supposed to be up 40% this coming season and that of natural gas up 11%. New boilers have efficiencies in the high 80's or even into the 90's. At the moment the only rebates available here are from the gas company, NationalGrid. The federal tax incentive plan expired in December 2007 and the attempt to extend it was removed from the 2007 energy bill. Although a new version was passed this February it must still pass the Senate and be signed by the president. However even without help from the feds, with the increased fuel pricing the cost of a new installation can be amortized over as little as 6 years or so and the return-on-investment (first year savings divided by installed cost), is more than 10%. Most other investments in this in this bushwacked economy are currently double digits negative. More information can be found from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: www.aceee.org/consumerguide/heating.htm