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David Remnick’s The Bridge delivers fresh insights about Barack Obama’s personal and political odyssey -- particularly when it comes to understanding the degree to which Obama is a product of New England’s commitment to social and global reform.
In uncertain times, grand strategies are important because they help others interpret a country's behavior. Despite some missteps, the Obama administration has in fact developed such a strategy, and a good one. But it has done a terrible job explaining it, which defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.
The Obama administration’s foreign policy has tried to reconcile the president’s lofty vision with his innate realism and political caution. And given the domestic and global situations Obama has faced, pragmatism has dominated. Judged by the standard of protecting U.S. interests, things have worked out quite well; judged by the standard of midwifing a new global order, they remain a work in progress.
Tough economic times are often met in Washington with calls for retrenchment. But for decades, write two former top Pentagon officials, long-term forward deployments of U.S. forces and robust alliances have guaranteed stability and uninterrupted trade, the very conditions the United States needs for economic prosperity. The Obama administration gets it.
To meet the range of challenges facing the United States and the world, Washington will have to strengthen and amplify its civilian power abroad. Diplomacy and development must work in tandem, offering countries the support to craft their own solutions.
Most experts think the global recession was caused by a collapse in demand -- and so, in good Keynesian fashion, they want governments to ramp up spending to compensate. But the West’s recent growth was dependent on borrowing. Going even further into debt now won’t help; instead, countries need to address the underlying flaws in their economies.
Since weak demand is at the heart of the recession, governments need to enact not just structural reforms but also stimulus programs, argues Menzie Chinn. Such reforms, moreover, don’t always work out, writes Karl Smith. Raghuram Rajan demurs.
Pundits predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act would make history. In fact, by upholding the individual mandate as a tax, the justices took themselves largely out of the picture, ensuring that the debate over health care will play out in the political sphere, where it belongs.