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While the grim effects of the 2008 financial crisis still resonate across the globe, the recession wasn't all bad: it triggered fundamental economic restructuring, and the result is a U.S. economy poised to emerge stronger than it was before. Although it's too soon to say with certainty, even Europe may come out ahead.
The Afghanistan and Iraq wars taught the United States painful lessons about the need to limit harm to civilians and compensate victims for their suffering. Now Washington must turn that ad hoc progress into a permanent policy, followed not only by its military but also by those of its partners as well.
The crisis of democracy identified in the 1970s never really went away; it was just papered over with temporary solutions and obscured by a series of lucky breaks. Today, the problems have mounted, and yet American democracy is more dysfunctional than ever -- and it has fewer levers to pull in a globalized economy. This time, the pessimists might be right.
In the next decade, China will continue to rise, not fade. Its leaders will consolidate the one-party model and, in the process, challenge the West’s smug certainty about political development and the inevitable march toward electoral democracy.
Li is far too confident in the benefits of Chinese authoritarianism. So far, what has held China back is not any lack of demand for democracy, but a lack of supply. That gap should start to close over the next ten years.
The Arab uprisings of 2011, once a great source of hope for democracy enthusiasts, have given way to sectarian clashes and political instability. The Middle East has not yet shed its authoritarian yoke, and the United States needs a policy that reflects that reality.
It’s easy to be pessimistic about the Arab Spring, given the post-revolutionary turmoil the Middle East is now experiencing. But critics forget that it takes time for new democracies to transcend their authoritarian pasts. As the history of political development elsewhere shows, things get better.
The United States' approach to counterinsurgency, championed by General David Petraeus, helped produce stunning results in parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. In retrospect, however, the fuss over the doctrine seems overblown. It achieved mere tactical successes and only in combination with other, non-military factors.
If there's one indisputable fact about this most polarizing of figures, it's that he is hard to get rid of -- and every retreat, even his most recent withdrawal from political life, lays the groundwork for an eventual counterattack.
Halting Iran's progress toward a bomb will require the United States to make credible promises and credible threats simultaneously -- an exceedingly difficult trick to pull off. For coercive diplomacy to work, Washington may need to put more of its cards on the table.
The United States' undisciplined, expensive, and bloody grand strategy has done untold harm to U.S. national security. It is time to abandon this hegemonic approach and replace it with one of restraint -- giving up on global reform and sticking to protecting narrow national security interests.
Now, more than ever, the United States might be tempted to pull back from the world. That would be a mistake, since an engaged grand strategy has served the country exceptionally well for the past six decades -- helping prevent the outbreak of conflict in the world’s most important regions, keeping the global economy humming, and facilitating international cooperation.
Republicans need to start taking foreign policy more seriously, thinking hard about the thorny task of managing a superpower and not leaving it as a plaything for right-wing interest groups. Failure to do so quickly could be catastrophic, ceding this ground to Democrats for the a generation at least.
The amount of resources the American public and private sectors commit to all forms of welfare is massive -- the fifth highest outlay in the world. Yet the American way of distributing that money does less to reduce poverty and inequality than that of virtually any other rich democracy. The United States can, and should, reform its welfare state, and it does not need to resort to European style socialism to do so.
Reviews & Responses
From the demise of the gold standard in the 1970s to the battle over financial reform today, Paul Volcker has helped shape U.S. economic policy for decades. A new biography underscores what today's public servants might learn from his storied career.
Vladimir Tismaneanu’s new book examines the evolving interpretations of communism and fascism. It turns out the two totalitarian ideologies had more in common than is often thought -- and the defenders of liberalism today would be well advised to learn from the struggles that brought them down.