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After World War II, Europe began a process of peaceful political unification unprecedented there and unmatched anywhere else. But the project began to go wrong in the early 1990s, when western European leaders started moving too quickly toward a flawed monetary union. Now, as Europe faces a still-unresolved debt crisis, its drive toward unification has stalled -- and unless fear or foresight gets it going again, the union could slide toward irrelevance.
The euro’s naysayers have it all wrong. True, the continent’s powerhouses have yet to agree on a clear plan to save the common currency, as each one is seeking to secure the best deal for itself. But they all also know that the collapse of the eurozone would be a political and economic disaster, so they will ultimately pay whatever price is necessary to keep it together.
Germany seems like Europe’s lone island of fiscal stability, but trouble lurks under its impressive export-fueled growth. An obsession with debt and austerity has blocked domestic investment as the country has ignored problems such as a shrinking work force and outdated infrastructure. Germany needs to borrow and spend more or face the end of its economic miracle.
United States worries about China’s rise, but Washington rarely considers how the world looks through Beijing’s eyes. Even when U.S. officials speak sweetly and softly, their Chinese counterparts hear sugarcoated threats and focus on the big stick in the background. America should not shrink from setting out its expectations of Asia’s rising superpower -- but it should do so calmly, coolly, and professionally.
For decades, U.S. China policy has been driven by a combination of engagement and balancing. The Obama administration has put too much weight on the first, and diplomatic happy talk has done nothing to halt Beijing’s military buildup. The next administration should get real about China and bolster the balancing half of Washington’s strategic equation.
Moscow’s anti-Putin protesters have captured the world’s attention. But does their message resonate outside the big cities? New research shows that although Russians in the provinces have no taste for revolution, noisy street protests, or abstract slogans, they are deeply unhappy with the current political system and may soon demand change themselves.
Israeli authorities in the West Bank have long worried about stopping Palestinian terrorism. Now, they need to add a new item to the agenda: stopping radical Jewish settlers who have begun attacking innocent Palestinians and Israeli soldiers alike. Jerusalem has to the stop the violence, and Washington should help.
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.
Compared with other developed countries, the United States has very low taxes, little income redistribution, and an extraordinarily complex tax code. If it wanted to, the government could raise taxes without crippling growth or productivity. Tax reform is ultimately a political choice, not an economic one -- a statement about what sort of society Americans want.
As a referendum on Scotland’s independence looms, the question of the region’s place in the United Kingdom has become the most pressing issue in British politics. Its experience shows how a smart secessionist party can dismantle a functioning country, and how central governments eager to buy off regions can end up making matters worse.
For two decades, the United States has dominated the global arms trade, reaping a broad range of economic and geopolitical benefits in the process. But shortsighted decisions to produce expensive, cutting-edge weapons systems, rather than cheaper, more practical ones, are squandering this monopoly and letting other countries get into the market.
Reviews & Responses
Discussions of Hispanic Americans in the media and on the campaign trail are warped by ignorance about who they really are and what they really want. A new book seeks to fill the gap with a data-rich portrait of this complex community.
According to Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s Why Nations Fail, economic development hinges on a country’s political institutions. But their monocausal analysis ignores other important factors (such as geography) that can also affect growth.