“As Threats Increase, America Needs a Diplomat in Chief”
An overview of what the next American president will face: a turbulent Arab world, a missile-rattling North Korean dictator, Putin’s expansive Russia, a more assertive and repressive China, a brutal civil war in Syria, and, partly as a result, a European Union on the edge of what its own leaders call an existential crisis. But these threats are no greater than those U.S. leaders have dealt with in the past.
By Strobe Talbott, Brookings Blog. Talbott has been president of the Brookings Institution since 2002. He served in the State Department from 1993 to 2001, first as ambassador-at-large and special adviser for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, then as Deputy Secretary of State. He entered government service after 21 years with Time magazine.
Not so long ago there were predictions that the nation-state, that peculiar modern institution, was becoming obsolete. Soon its arbitrary frontiers would be irrelevant, with supra-national entities in charge of the business of running societies. It doesn’t look like that today, says Berger, in this brief review of the idea of nationhood.
By Peter Berger, the American Interest. Berger is a sociologist and the author of many books. He is best known for his landmark 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality (coauthored with Thomas Luckmann). Berger has spent most of his career teaching at the New School for Social Research, Rutgers University, and Boston University.
“The Economic Trend Is Our Friend”
Economist Delong takes a contrarian’s look at the state of the world and lays out the case for optimism. As he puts it, “the large-scale trends that have fueled global growth since World War II have not stopped. More people are gaining access to new, productivity enhancing technologies, more people are engaging in mutually beneficial trade, and fewer people are being born, thus allaying any continued fears of a so-called population bomb.” And these major trends are likely to continue.
By J. Bradford Delong, Project Syndicate. Delong is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was a Deputy Assistant U.S. Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration.
“Hajj, the Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca, Explained for Non-Muslims”
Which religious figure does the hajj commemorate? Ibrahim, a.k.a. Abraham in the Old Testament. This informative guide clears up some common misconceptions about Islam’s grand event.
By Jennifer Williams, Vox.com. Williams is Vox’s deputy foreign editor. Previously, she was a senior researcher at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the deputy foreign policy editor for Lawfare.
“The Drone Presidency”
This article reviewing four recent books on U.S. drone-warfare policies asks a fundamental question: “What can and should be do now to mitigate the risks that a world armed with drones will become a place in which lethal force is a first rather than a last resort?” Ironically, President Obama, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, has now lead the country at war longer than any other American president. In Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, virtually all U.S. military force has come in the form of unmanned drones executing suspected terrorists.
By David Cole, the New York Review of Books. Cole is the Honorable George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy at the Georgetown University Law Center. His latest book is Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law.
This deep analysis of the Brexit vote by a British journalist and novelist suggests strong parallels with the presidential campaign in the USA. “Whole swathes of the UK,” John Lancaster writes, “have spent the last decades feeling that things are being taken away from them: their jobs, their sense that they are heard, their understanding of how the world works and their place in it.” The argument for leaving the EU, he adds, “wasn’t really an argument but a very clever appeal to emotion, to the idea that the UK could ‘Take back control.'”
By John Lanchester, London Review of Books. Lancaster is the author, most recently, of the novel Capital and the nonfiction book How to Speak Money.
The editors of the Danish newspaper Politiken asked cartoonists from 28 EU countries to draw their conception of the European Community in light of the Brexit vote. The results offer a sharp, clever batch of commentaries and illuminate as only the visual can.
“Trump’s immigration Speech and the Battle over What America Means”
U.S. politics have always been nastiest when fundamental questions of national definition are in play, and the current election provides a fine example. When Donald Trump says “America First,” he is expressing a sentiment from which all the rest of his views and positions flow—trade policies, no nation-building or regime-change initiatives abroad, a military build-up, and, especially, tightening up on immigration. By contrast, Merry writes, “the elite view’s adherents don’t see borders as paramount because they aren’t particularly nationalist in their outlook and because they are driven by what they consider the sanctity of ethnic and racial diversity.”
By Robert W. Merry, the National Interest. Merry is a contributing editor at the National Interest and an author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.
“The ‘Strength’ of Vladimir Putin”
Putin is a bit like Donald Trump in that he is more effective at projecting an image of personal toughness than he is at actually pursuing his country’s interests. Russia’s obvious problem is that most of its economic growth is driven by oil and gas, and strong leaders do not leave their nations vulnerable to the fluctuations of a single commodity market.
By Kevin D, Williamson, National Review. Williamson is National Review’s roving correspondent and director of the National Review Institute’s William F. Buckley Jr. Fellowship Program in Political Journalism. He is the author of The End Is Near and It’s Going To Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure, The Dependency Agenda, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism.
“Weimar German and Donald Trump”
How traditional and radical conservatives come to speak a common language—which ultimately benefits the extremists. Today’s Republicans and similarly-minded figures in Europe are like the conservatives who put Adolf Hitler in power: delusional about their influence, playing dangerously with the structures of our democracy.
By Eric D. Weitz, Tablet. Weitz is a professor of history at the City College of New York. He is the author of Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy.
“How ISIS Will End”
The Islamic State group is losing territory in Iraq and Syria, but it may have staying power in one of its three permutations: ISIS is simultaneously a movement for Sunni Muslim empowerment, a global jihadist movement, and an apocalyptic cult.
By Mark Juergensmeyer, the Caro Review of Global Affairs. Juergensmeyer is professor of sociology and global studies and the founding director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State and Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence.
“When the Caliphate Crumbles: The Future of the Islamic State’s Affiliates”
As ISIS declines on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq, only a few of its affiliates will grow. Its strongest current affiliates in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula face stiff competition from local rivals and rising counterterrorism pressure. Whether the Islamic State can endure depends more on its ability to self-finance than any other factor.
By Clint Watts, War on the Rocks. Watts is a Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University. Previously, he served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, an FBI Special Agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force, and as the Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
“Quotable: Alberto Fernandez on ISIS Propaganda—and the American Patrimony”
“There is no one silver bullet or kryptonite in the fight against ISIS propaganda,” Fernandez, testified to a Senate subcommittee this summer. The United States is now “countering” the ISIS narrative, but the U.S. has not found the way to deploy its own patrimony in the contest of ideas.
By Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, John Brown’s Press and Public Diplomacy Blog Review. Fernandez, now Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), was head of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications before his retirement from the Foreign Service.