November/December 2012

November/December 2012
91, 6

Comments

Comment
Ruchir Sharma

The most talked-about global economic trend in recent years has been “the rise of the rest,” with Brazil, Russia, India, and China leading the charge. But international economic convergence is a myth. Few countries can sustain unusually fast growth for a decade, and even fewer, for more than that. Now that the boom years are over, the BRICs are crumbling; the international order will change less than expected.

Comment
Dirk Vandewalle

In light of the killing of the U.S. ambassador, it’s tempting to be pessimistic about Libya. But just a year after the fall of a long-standing tyrant, the country is moving on and has peacefully elected a new government. As it turns out, building a functioning state from scratch can be a good thing.

Comment
Joost R. Hiltermann

Iraqi Kurdistan is reveling in its newfound oil wealth and growing more estranged from the violent and dysfunctional central government in Baghdad. Yet statehood -- the ultimate dream of Iraqi Kurds -- will likely be deferred once again, as Kurdistan shifts from Iraq’s suffocating embrace to a more congenial dependence on Turkey.

Comment
Héctor Aguilar Camín and Jorge G. Castañeda

At first, Mexico's recent presidential election looked unpromising: the PRI, the country's long-dominant party, crept back into office, but with only 38 percent of the vote and no majority in Congress. Yet the campaign revealed just how much Mexicans actually agree on, and the new government is likely to pass long-overdue reforms.

Essays

Essay
Megan H. MacKenzie

The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that it will lift the ban on women in combat. That change is long overdue. The exclusion rested on false stereotypes and an outdated understanding of war.

Essay
Neil Gershenfeld

In recent decades, the world has been rocked by revolutions in the digitization of computation and communication. Now the physical world is being digitized, thanks to new technologies that can turn data into things and things into data. Digital fabrication will let people build custom home furniture, living organs out of cells, and drones that can fly out of a printer; science fiction is becoming industrial fact.

Essay
Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr.

As Western defense budgets are declining, the price of projecting power is increasing and the range of interests requiring protection is expanding. To square this circle, the Pentagon needs to embrace a dramatic shift in its strategy. It should turn its focus away from repelling traditional cross-border invasions and pursuing regime change followed by stability operations -- and concentrate instead on assuring access to key regions and the global commons.

Essay
Robert S. Ross

The Obama administration has responded to Chinese assertiveness by reinforcing U.S. military and diplomatic links to the Asia-Pacific, to much acclaim at home and in the region. But the “pivot” is based on a serious misreading of its target. China remains far weaker than the United States and is deeply insecure. To make Beijing more cooperative, Washington should work to assuage China’s anxieties, not exploit them.

Essay
Thane Gustafson

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has become increasingly addicted to oil, which has underwritten bad policies and allowed Putin to buy off key constituencies and the masses. But petroleum could also hold the key to Russia’s salvation. The supply of cheap oil is running out, and Russia’s best hope of responding to the coming crunch is making the sort of changes liberal reformers have been pushing for years.

Essay
Lane Kenworthy

Equality of opportunity has long been an American ideal, and the expansion of opportunity to women and minorities in the last half century has been a major success. But other obstacles to advancement remain, and recently, socioeconomic inequality has actually increased. The United States now has less social mobility than more other wealthy nations; it can and must catch up by following their lead.

Essay
Linda Robinson

With the rise of endless irregular wars playing out in the shadows, special operations have never been more important to U.S. national security. But policymakers and commanders focus too much on dramatic raids and high-tech drone strikes. They need to pay more attention to an even more important task these forces take on: training foreign troops.

November/December 2012

Buy the November/December 2012 issue in PDF format.

Purchase this issue for $9.99:

Reviews & Responses

Review Essay
Jonathan Sacks

For centuries, all sorts of political movements have claimed the Hebrew Bible as their guide. But as Michael Walzer argues in his new book, the Bible offers no consistent political program. Better to read it, suggests the United Kingdom’s chief rabbi, as a text on how to run a society.

Review Essay
Fredrik Logevall

A pathbreaking history of the Vietnam War reveals that the Northern government was far more divided and discouraged than commonly believed. Yet the fact remains that the United States and its allies in the South always faced very long odds of success.

Review Essay
Robert H. Scales

Thomas Ricks' new book identifies an urgent challenge facing the U.S. armed forces: how to produce good generals. But Ricks' solution -- regularly firing underperforming officers -- is based on flawed historical analysis and would do more harm than good.

Review Essay
Walter Russell Mead

Two new books -- one condemning the culture of liberal piety embraced by the Nobel Peace Prize, the other detailing the global influence of conservative civil society -- underscore the dangers of using Big Ideas to try to save the world.

Review Essay
Donald R. Hickey

Today, the War of 1812 is all but forgotten. But as two recent books show, its legacies -- helping professionalize the U.S. military, planting the seeds of manifest destiny, and laying the groundwork for a long-standing Anglo-American alliance -- endure today.

Order Back Issues

The complete backfile of Foreign Affairs magazine, dating back to 1922, can be ordered in hard copy from William S. Hein & Co., Inc.

716.882.2600 (voice)
800.828.7571 (toll-free)
order@wshein.com http://www.wshein.com

For bulk orders or questions about the Foreign Affairs printed archives, please email us at fa-customer-service@cfr.org.