Americans eagerly await another “morning in America” moment.12:00 AM, Aug 21, 2010 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
If it were ever true that we Americans are provincial -- the charge made by European elites and pundits -- it no longer is. True, only about one-in-three American adults have passports, but then Europeans can drop in on neighboring countries by hopping on a train, whereas Americans face a longer, more expensive trip from a country large enough to accommodate a great deal of wanderlust.
If the current recession taught Americans, and especially those of our policymakers capable of absorbing new facts, anything, it taught that events in “ a far away country … [with] people of whom we know nothing,” to borrow from Neville Chamberlain’s description of Czechoslovakia, matter here at home. Guerrillas in Niger disrupt oil production and American drivers pay more for gasoline; Greece teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, and U.S. bankers nervously reexamine their exposure to sovereign debt and European holders of those IOUs; China manipulates its currency and the undervalued yuan sucks jobs across the Pacific; floods in Afghanistan and drought in Russia cut those countries’ cotton production and American farmers benefit from the consequent rise in prices.
In short, our two oceans are less relevant than they once were, in part because of the globalization of financial markets, in part because the cost of communication has plummeted with the rise of the Internet, in part because new techniques of warfare allow resident Islamic jihadists to reach targets old-fashioned enemy bombers could not. That’s part of the reason the G-20 has finally found a raison d’être beyond creating photo ops for politicians.
This new interdependence, or at least the policy-making and political aspect of it, was highlighted at a recent meeting in Washington between UK prime minister David Cameron and a group of pundits and policymakers. As Bill Kristol, editor of this magazine, put it in a recent issue of Britain’s Prospect magazine, when the presidential election rolls around at the end of 2011, Britain will have had over two years’ experience with “a government that came to power running against big government, [and] welfare-statism…. If Cameron is able to and chooses to pursue a bold reform agenda … it would be important and helpful to US conservatism and the US in general if he succeeds.” So the special relationship takes on a new aspect: American conservatives are looking to their UK counterparts as potential role models.
And not only in the re-scaling of government and re-defining the welfare state. American policymakers are divided over the question of how to handle our deficit, now in double digits as a percent of GDP. President Obama’s team and many mainstream economists believe it is too soon to cut spending lest the current slowdown become the dreaded double-dip; Republicans generally believe that until the deficit is brought under control by a cut in spending, the private sector will remain on the sidelines, husbanding its $2 trillion cash hoard. Democrats are willing to attack the deficit by raising taxes on “the rich” and perhaps instituting a VAT-style national sales tax; Republicans believe such measures will kill the fragile green shoots that are struggling to grow into a full-fledged recovery.
Meanwhile, the presidential deficit reduction commission, scheduled to report after the November congressional elections, is looking at, among other things, the Cameron-Osborne (the latter is Tory chancellor of the Exchequer) formula of a combination of £4 of spending cuts for every £1 of tax increases, and especially at the consequences of raising the marginal tax rate on high-earners -- as offensive an idea to many U.S. conservatives, with the notable exception of former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, as it is to Tories unconvinced that their government’s plan to leave in place Labour’s increase of the top marginal rate to 50 percent will produce much cash for her majesty's treasury.
Will the last one to leave turn out the Northern lights? May 17, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 33 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
A few weeks ago, Palle Christiansen, Greenland’s minister of finance warned that his country was facing an existential threat from immigration. Yet unlike the far-right politicians of Europe who take up this theme, Christiansen was not fretting over foreigners coming to his country’s shores, but about fellow citizens leaving.
Walter Russell Mead on globalization4:24 PM, Jan 26, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Check out Walter Russell Mead's take on the American future:
The learned professions in the United States — lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants, educators, journalists, government bureaucrats — are under the gun. The IT revolution is going to put them all through the wringer — the way it has already put blue collar America through the wringer by a combination of automation and outsourcing. The upper middle class did very well in the last generation, even as blue collar incomes stagnated and in many cases fell. The next phase of change will challenge the institutions and the livelihoods of America’s managers, professors, lawyers and others in the same way that it has already thrown journalism into the maelstrom.
These changes are necessary and in the long run benign. Dramatically and thoroughly restructuring the professions will ultimately make the vital services they provide much cheaper and much more widely available — just as the destruction of the old manufacturing guilds in the industrial revolution eventually made manufactured goods much cheaper. But just as the spinners and weavers fought the new machines, so we can expect a lot of our intellectuals and managers to fight the challenges to a system that has worked very well for them.
The whole post is worth reading. And if you are interested in this topic, be sure to read Gregg Easterbrook's Sonic Boom, which treats the coming changes at greater length. I reviewed Sonic Boom here.
Don DeLillo weighs in on September 11 and comes up short.11:01 PM, Nov 25, 2001 • By DAVID SKINNER
TWO WEEKS AFTER September 11, while the whole world was still checking in with itself, the New York Times called up a bunch of novelists. The paper of record wanted to see if their jobs still had any meaning.
Alas, no.Nov 19, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 10 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
SO NOW WE KNOW: The Saudi Arabian regime is no friend of ours. Sure, they sell us oil and tell us that they keep the OPEC cartel from pushing prices through the roof. But their refusal to go along with OPEC price hawks is self-serving.
Globalization in antiquity.Nov 12, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 09 • By PAUL A. CANTOR
THE ISSUE OF GLOBALIZATION is very much on our minds at the moment--and the experience of the ancient world proves an aid to understanding what we think of as a uniquely modern problem.
It was Jean-Marie Guehenno who argued in his brilliant 1995 book "The End of the Nation-State" that during the age of empire--beginning with the conquests of Alexander the Great--the ancient world embarked on a vast experiment in cosmopolitanism that eerily foreshadows what we are experiencing today.
Politics and culture after September 11.Nov 5, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 08 • By DAVID BROOKS
"A SINGULAR FACT OF MODERN WAR," the historian Bruce Catton once wrote, "is that it takes charge. Once begun it has to be carried to its conclusion, and carrying it there sets in motion events that may be beyond men's control. Doing what has to be done to win, men perform acts that alter the very soil in which society's roots are nourished." Catton was writing about the Civil War, but his observation applies to most wars, and it will likely apply to the war to which we are now committed.
Neither the best nor the brightest.Oct 15, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 05 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
War in a Time of Peace
Bush, Clinton, and the Generals
by David Halberstam
Scribner, 544 pp., $28
THE STORY OF AMERICA'S FOREIGN POLICY during the years of Bill Clinton will be of considerable interest to historians. The United States, having won a stunning and surprising victory in the Cold War, emerges as the most powerful, prosperous, and politically attractive nation on the planet.
The most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role.Oct 15, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 05 • By MAX BOOT
MANY HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THE September 11 attack on America was payback for U.S. imperialism. If only we had not gone around sticking our noses where they did not belong, perhaps we would not now be contemplating a crater in lower Manhattan.
Oct 15, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 05 • By ROBERT KAGAN and WILLIAM KRISTOL
CAN THE UNITED STATES WIN A WAR ON TERRORISM while winking at some terrorists and cozying up to nations that support them? Can the United States effectively fight terrorism and reward terrorism at the same time? You shouldn't have to ponder those questions very long. The certain answer is no.
But the Bush administration isn't certain.
America from Gilligan's Island to The X-FilesSep 17, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 01 • By DAVID BROOKS
I'D NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED the way George W. Bush resembles Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island until I read Paul A. Cantor’s brilliant book, Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization. As Cantor points out, Gilligan is not the smartest one on the island. He doesn’t have the obvious leadership résumé. Yet the audience instinctively sympathizes with him, and the show’s creators were right to put him in the center.
An exercise in posing and preening.Sep 10, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 48 • By JEREMY RABKIN
IT HAS BEEN A BUSY SUMMER for European diplomats and for the human rights activists who dance to the Euro-beat. They have been much exercised about dangers to global stability. The main danger, they seem to think, comes from the United States.
Europeans want to stop global warming and stand up for global justice. So do the globalist non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, who are their moaning bass accompanists. But the Bush administration has said no to the Kyoto Protocol and no to the International Criminal Court.
Aug 13, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 45 • By DAVID BROOKS, FOR THE EDITORS
MOST PRESIDENTS RETREAT to the bully pulpit after suffering a setback, but George W. Bush has done the opposite. Following the Jeffords defection, President Bush went down into the trenches, conducting detailed negotiations with members of Congress, and visiting the Capitol building to personally move legislation.
This has yielded some startling victories. The Bush administration seemed to have painted itself into a corner on the patients’ bill of rights, but it is now likely to get a bill it can live with.
The era of big government does seem to be over.Jul 23, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 42 • By MICHAEL BARONE
HALF A CENTURY AGO it was plain which way democracies were heading: left. In the United States, the Democrats held the White House for the nineteenth straight year. In Britain, the Labour party had just created the National Health Service and nationalized the commanding heights of the economy. Europe’s Christian Democratic parties were creating welfare states hardly less ambitious than those advocated by their social democratic rivals.