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James Bradbury
James Bradbury is an international politics opinion columnist for The Stanford Daily. His goal for "Outside the Bubble" is to provide accessible, (hopefully) informative and slightly opinionated context for the week's world news headlines. James is a sophomore from McLean, Va. majoring in linguistics. To contact him, please email jbradbur 'at'

A people’s choice

India didn’t vote the Congress out because of their welfare schemes: They voted the Congress out because, time after time, welfare schemes were all they offered. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh—the very man who as finance minister under Narasimha Rao had spearheaded the implementation of the Bhagwati reforms—was an invisible (and usually inaudible) leader whose deep loyalty to the Gandhi family, for whom a new welfare proposal was the solution to every problem of government, consistently won out over his better policy judgment.

Long live the King

Last Wednesday, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from office by Thailand’s Constitutional Court. This week, now-ex-PM Yingluck – the least corrupt prime minister in modern Thai history – faces a five-year ban from politics at the hands of the country’s National Anti-Corruption Commission. These moves are only the latest in a decade-long struggle that pits Thailand’s aristocratic establishment against a tycoon they view as a traitor, its urban middle class against newly empowered rural masses and King Rama IX’s privy council against the very man set to succeed to the throne.

“There are no supermen”

It will take a level of optimism in the face of unceasingly bad news that perhaps only Bassem Sabry was really capable of, but there is a way forward. The one constant in the last three years of Egyptian politics is that public expectations have consistently been unreasonably high; that each government, upon failing to meet those expectations, has received more blame for the country’s problems than it deserves.

No “U” in Colombia?

That so-called Uribismo quickly upended the Colombian political environment, previously characterized by a relatively stable opposition between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. Although Uribe was subject to term limits, popular support for his policies—his approval ratings were regularly upwards of 70 percent—led several factions to unite around their common support for a constitutional amendment that would allow a second Uribe term; this “U Party” won more votes in the 2006 legislative elections than either of the traditional parties.

In Defense of Turkish Democracy

The election results—in particular, the relatively poor performance of the Kemalist opposition—only serve to confirm the new landscape of Turkish political power: a landscape composed of three people and the three organizations they control. The AKP under Erdoğan, the PKK under Öcalan (who influences the movement from prison) and the Hizmet under Gülen all represent well-organized movements with charismatic and forward-thinking leaders and, most importantly, fresh ideologies, each of which in their own way mark a break with the seemingly tired Western political discourse.

Papa Putin: Russia’s Narrative of Paternalism

Over the weekend, the “Russian military intervention” that I claimed last week was “unlikely” came to pass, and on Tuesday morning Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an hour-long press conference—at times rambling, almost stream-of-consciousness; at times frustrated and impatient—where, instead of explaining why Russia had invaded Crimea, he denied that the occupying soldiers were Russian…

Revolution in Ukraine: Take Two

“In order to cut electricity consumption, it has been decided to switch off the light at the end of the tunnel.” Such was Ukrainian comedian Dmytro Chekalkin’s line upon the 2010 inauguration of President Viktor Yanukovych. After a decade of failed reform and economic collapse under the first two post-Soviet leaders and another decade of…

In Venezuela, Ideology and its Consequences

There is something starkly impressive in the Venezuelan government’s accomplishment, in the ideological construction of an alternate universe so thoroughly divorced from reality and yet so thoroughly integrated into the political fabric of the country. The Venezuelan economy is not on the brink of collapse because of covert “economic warfare” carried out by a shadowy…

European Modernity: Tragedy, then Farce

A prominent Stanford professor (whom I won’t name because he wasn’t speaking to be quoted) was only repeating the consensus among the political and economic elite when he told me after a talk on Monday that, simply because Europe was the first to modernize, modernization will always and everywhere involve Westernization. His point was that…

Wanted: A Foreign Policy

A decade ago, as the initial campaign of “shock and awe” in Iraq drew to a close and Afghanistan prepared for its first post-invasion elections, President George W. Bush used a speech at the National Endowment for Democracy to lay out a radical new American foreign policy. He announced that “the United States has adopted…a…
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