Maritime Southeast Asia, the area circumscribed by the Malaysian peninsula, the Indonesian archipelago and the Philippines, is vital to US strategic concerns for two primary reasons. First, this region includes the South China Sea where American and Chinese ambitions may be heading toward direct conflict as China continues to press forward with its agenda of extending its reach.
Theodor Fontane, the master of German realist fiction, published his first novel, Before the Storm, in 1876. Set during the winter of 1812–13, in and around Berlin, it explores the decisive historical moment when Prussia changed sides—breaking out of its forced alliance with France in order to side with Russia in the anti-Napoleonic war. Yet the dialectic of the moment was such that Germans could join in the rout of the French while nonetheless embracing aspects of the French revolutionary legacy.
The vitality of relations between Berlin and Washington has long served as a litmus test for the overall health of the Atlantic alliance, which makes the current rhetorical skirmishing between the principals all the more troublesome. President Trump has condemned Germany’s high trade surplus and its low defense budget as “very bad,” while Chancellor Merkel has responded, indirectly, in the Christian Democrat’s electoral platform. In 2013, that document had described the United States as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.
It is a global story, a new industrial revolution. The spread of the internet and the proliferation of social media have led to dramatic changes with salutary results: greater access to more diverse information, gateways to goods and services that have transformed the retail experience, and opportunities to engage and network with expanded communities, while still staying in touch with friends and family, all thanks to the blessings of these new technologies.
By most measures, the West ought to declare victory in the process of globalization. Political institutions that developed in the West—representative government, liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the core catalog of rights—have become normative throughout the world. While few societies always meet all these expectations, and some fail miserably, the standards by which political systems anywhere are measured are products of western historical developments.
Helmut Kohl, the long-serving German leader who reunified his country after the fall of the Berlin Wall and championed Europe’s integration, died on Friday at 87. Kohl served as chancellor — first of West Germany and then of unified Germany — from 1982 until 1998, a 16-year term in office not seen since Bismarck. (Kohl’s one-time protegée, Angela Merkel, is now in her 12th year as chancellor.)
Not that long ago, debates over politics were anchored in a clear opposition between universalism and relativism. Proponents of an inclusive structure of, at least aspirationally, all states—the new world order—envisioned an unchallenged entrenchment of democratic capitalism everywhere. Where dictatorships endured, as in North Korea, they were treated as bizarre outliers, exceptions that proved the rule of the progress of mankind toward Kant’s perpetual peace.
Born into a Jewish family in Algeria in 1948, Bernard-Henri Lévy was raised in Paris, where he enrolled in the elite Ecole Normale in the embattled year of 1968. It was a dramatic historical moment. Revolutionary illusions and intellectual inflation filled the streets, while student uprisings were erupting from Japan to Germany, and from Berkeley to Harvard. That same year witnessed the crushing of the Prague Spring when the tanks of the Warsaw Pact rolled into Czechoslovakia, postponing the end of the Soviet Empire for two more melancholy decades.
The new administration will inherit a Middle East foreign policy in tatters. The aspirations of President Obama’s Cairo speech of 2009 have not been met. Instead, failed states proliferate, non-state actors amplify disorder, and the stable rulers that remain rely on shaky legitimacy. The paradigm of a system of nation states may be disappearing before our eyes.
After a rancorous and ugly presidential campaign, in which vitriol and name-calling replaced discussion and policy, one moment stands out for its dignity: President Obama’s grace and generosity when he welcomed the president-elect to the White House. Above the fray and with a Lincolnian refusal of malice, he modeled a possibility of reconciliation and healing, as if citizens might genuinely respect each other, despite profound differences. That utopia will likely remain elusive, but the president’s bearing provides a lesson in civic virtue. Democracycan be coarse.
After the attacks in Paris, TEC faculty affiliate Russell A. Berman argues that "ISIS is hardly the only challenge to American power and the international order" and that "strategic thinking has to consider long term issues and not merely react to immediate events or even the most terrible headlines." Instead, he encourages the U.S. to strengthen alliances with the Europeans and the Sunnis in the December 1, 2015 edition of The Caravan.