Critical Affairs: Series Introduction

“Bring Into Focus” Smithsonian, Freer and Sackler Gallery of Asian Art | Washington, D.C. | Japanese Buddhist Sutra, Photo and Editing by Author

The Goal

It is my aim, through this series, to introduce to a general audience a more thougftul and historical understanding of issues of contemporary international importance. The series will focus largely on U.S. and Chinese events, as these are the two areas where I possess formal training and am hence most comfortable.

I will occasionally focus on a single work, event, or issue that I feel is under-represented in public discourse. This includes potentially some myth-busting (such as China’s holding of U.S. treasury debt means China “owns the U.S.”) and independent commentary on the White House’s trade war; development theory and practice; and international education. It is, however, not my intention to turn this into a fact-checking program whereby I am forced to respond to the daily inanity of an American administration run by illiterates.

If readers are able to come away with a feeling that they learned something, or want to learn more, I consider that a success. The point is not to ferret out some kernel of capital-T Truth, but to become familiar with the process of critical political engagement and reflection.

About the Author

Who am I, to be venturing into such fraught territory alongside the rich and influential mongers of diplomacy? To be succinct, a nobody. I have no institutional affiliations or state backing, and I am speaking as a member of the general (global) public.

That said, I am a white American male with fluency in Mandarin Chinese, with degrees in Chinese Linguistics and International Relations. I consider myself primarily as a cultural or historical scholar, and am rather uninterested in the military-industrial angle of global relations–although the military perspective undergirds everything in the D.C. think-tank scene, and is often present in the [unspoken] “against” perspective.

As a general rule, my blog takes an anticolonial and critical look at the world–which can include queer, feminist, and subaltern perspectives. I do not pretend to speak for or as anything other than myself; however my own identities and materiality complicate things, I do not think it disqualifies my working on such issues and theories. Complaints, concerns, or corrections should be submitted to admin(at)andmorewords(dot)com.

The Defining Relationship of Our Time

The U.S. and China have a special relationship (see Part I of the series), one that has formed over 200 years of on-again off-again euphoria and paranoia. It is my belief that we are now entering a period of renewed Chinese-paranoia, which to my mind is unnecessary and potentially very dangerous. The world does not need another Cold War, inspite of how rich it would make the defense contractors, it would be to everyone’s detriment for the U.S. and China to continue to view the other with so much distrust and fear.

If ignorance and fear are the handmaidens of war, then it is my intention to help combat the first two before they swell to lethal proportions.


Serials of Note:

Links to other IR-related collections around the web. Please note I do not affiliate myself with any outside sources, the views expressed are those of the authors and potentially of the institutions that host them.


Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)


  China Power ProjectD.C. based think-tank, formerly Naval Intelligence.

RAND Corporation


RAND CHINAD.C. think-tank, formerly Pentagon intelligence.

European Council on Foreign Realtions (ECFR)


Asia + China ProjectEuropean based think-tank for foreign affairs.

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)


CFR ChinaD.C. based think-tank for foreign affairs.
BrookingsBrookings China

A D.C. based think-tank with center-left bend.


China In Central Asia


China In Central AsiaRaffaello Pantucci’s blog on Chinese actions along the BRI corridor (inactive since 2017)

Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)


SOMOA non-profit watchdog for international businesses, based in the Nederlands.

The Disorder of Things


TDOTCritical I(G)R blog, with frequent guest columns and book reviews.