A few months ago, trucks loaded with goods crossed a border. All over the world, this kind of thing happens every day, but not here. October marked the first time in 60 years that Indian trucks loaded with apples and walnuts traveled to Pakistan. The trucks returned carrying a shipment of Pakistani rice and raisins. […]
A new report by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) on the emerging strategic landscape, "Global Trends 2025," has attracted worldwide attention because it forecasts a future environment in which the United States wields less power than it does today and must contend with a constellation of other, newly ambitious great powers. "Although the United States is likely to remain the single most important actor," the report notes, "the United States’ relative strength — even in the military realm — will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained." Of all the many revealing findings in the study, this has been the most widely quoted.
The election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American president has been heralded as proof that the United States has finally broken through the racial barrier. The image springs to mind of recalcitrant whites at last convinced to see beyond skin color, voting for a black man.
It came together spontaneously, the rally at Lafayette Park across from the White House, even before the concession speech by John McCain. The crowd was multiracial, but the vast majority was white. And young. Lustily cheering "O-BA-MA, O-BA-MA," they were from a generation aching for a reason to hope. These young Americans were responding to Barack Obama’s clarion call to abandon cynicism and the politics of division that Karl Rove and the Republicans had perfected as an art form over the last two decades.
When the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz said the great tragedy of Mexico was that it was so far from God and so close to the United States, the comment summed up the long and tortured relationship between the Colossus of the North and Latin America.
We’ve heard a lot about gun control and the second amendment in this election season. A McCain-Palin poster, featuring Alaska’s 44-year-old governor with a big gun and the viewer in her rifle sights, is just one of the more graphic indications that gun control is a lightning-rod issue that distracts, distorts, and dismays.
Given the magnitude and scope of the current economic crisis, the world will no doubt experience a significant economic downturn — of what degree and duration, no one can say — profoundly affecting all aspects of U.S. and international society. Of the many areas that will be impacted by the downturn, the environment stands out in particular. It’s closely tied to the tempo of resource consumption, and significant efforts to ameliorate environmental decline will prove very expensive and out of reach for already-stretched budgets. The question thus arises: Will the crisis be good or bad for the environment, especially with respect to global warming?
If most Americans think Iran and Georgia are the two most volatile flashpoints in the world, one can hardly blame them. The possibility that the Bush administration might strike at Tehran’s nuclear facilities has been hinted about for the past two years, and the White House’s pronouncements on Russia seem like Cold War déjà vu.
The great debate on how much – or how little — Barack Obama would change our disastrous U.S. foreign policy usually focuses on the Middle East. That makes sense. Nowhere has the price of the Bush national security strategy been higher, as the violent deaths of more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers and 93,000 Iraqis attest.
In commenting on the war in the Caucasus, most American analysts have tended to see it as a throwback to the past: as a continuation of a centuries-old blood feud between Russians and Georgians, or, at best, as part of the unfinished business of the Cold War. Many have spoken of Russia’s desire to erase the national “humiliation” it experienced with the collapse of the Soviet Union 16 years ago, or to restore its historic “sphere of influence” over the lands to its South. But the conflict is more about the future than the past. It stems from an intense geopolitical contest over the flow of Caspian Sea energy to markets in the West.