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Today’s troubles are real, but not ideological: they relate more to policies than to principles. The postwar order of mutually supporting liberal democracies with mixed economies solved the central challenge of modernity, reconciling democracy and capitalism. The task now is getting the system back into shape.
Selections from the Foreign Affairs archives tracing the ideological battles of the past century and the evolution of the modern order. The authors include Harold Laski, Victor Chernov, Paul Scheffer, William Henry Chamberlin, Giovanni Gentile, Erich Koch-Weser, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Isaiah Berlin, Benedetto Croce, Leon Trotsky, C. H. McIlwain, Alvin Hansen and C. P. Kindleberger, Geoffrey Crowther, David Saposs, G. John Ikenberry, Azar Gat, Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, and Nancy Birdsall and Francis Fukuyama.
Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of contemporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.
The advanced industrial democracies are facing a crisis of governability. Globalization is widening the gap between what voters demand and what their governments can deliver. Unless the leading democracies can restore their political and economic solvency, the very model they represent may lose its allure.
Opponents of military action against Iran assume a U.S. strike would be far more dangerous than simply letting Tehran build a bomb. Not so, argues this former Pentagon defense planner. With a carefully designed attack, Washington could mitigate the costs and spare the region and the world from an unacceptable threat.
The United States gives Pakistan billions of dollars in aid each year. Pakistan returns the favor by harboring terrorists, spreading anti-Americanism, and selling nuclear technology abroad. The bribes and the begging aren't working: only threats and the determination to act on them will do the job. Washington must tell Islamabad to start cooperating or lose its aid and face outright isolation.
As the United States looks ahead, it faces two central challenges in foreign policy, writes a former national security adviser: enlarging the zone of prosperity and democracy in the West while balancing the rise of China and allaying the fears of the United States’ Asian allies. Neither challenge can be addressed in isolation -- for today, the fates of the West and the East are intertwined.
The collapse of the euro is no accident; the seeds of the crisis were planted before the monetary union even began, argues a former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. It never made sense to yoke so many different economies and cultures together—yet they now ﬁnd themselves trapped in a union that leaves no means of escape.
Confidence in the dollar and the euro continues to falter, threatening the international monetary system. The world has faced such monetary collapse before: in the 1930s, with disastrous results, and less catastrophically in the 1970s. Understanding these two precedents is crucial to successfully navigating the crisis today.
China seems to want the yuan to dethrone the dollar as the global reserve currency. But don’t expect China’s currency to take over anytime soon. The yuan will rise, but far slower than predicted, and Beijing’s puzzling efforts to help it along reveal flaws in the government’s divided and incremental approach.
Reviews & Responses
Intelligent observers of Europe in the 1930s thought its future belonged to communism or fascism and would have ridiculed the notion that decades later the entire continent would be democratic. New books by Jan-Werner Müller and Eric Hobsbawm illuminate the changing fortunes of the continent’s great ideologies.
John Lewis Gaddis’ magisterial authorized biography of George Kennan tells the story of a brilliant diplomat who helped define postwar U.S. foreign policy -- especially America’s successful Cold War strategy. Yet the public triumph was matched with private frustration, and the prickly Kennan never won the influence he craved.
In his new book, the acclaimed psychologist Steven Pinker argues that despite the horrors of the twentieth century, global violence is actually on the decline over the long term. The empirical trend Pinker describes is real, but his explanation for it overlooks the crucial relationship between individuals and states.