The Corner

Wisdom about the World

It seems likely right now that the Obama administration will be defined by its response to the nation’s economic woes. But few would have suspected in January 2001 that the Bush administration would be defined by anti-terrorism programs and military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. I recommend that conservatives get up to speed on current hotspots and major issues in international relations:

• Dan Blumenthal and Aaron Friedberg led a team of reseachers who have just published a fascinating survey piece for the American Enterprise Institute on American challenges and opportunities in Asia. They are blunt about the China dilemma and not particularly sanguine about the prospects of improvement in relations with North Korea or Russia. They also circle back to the economic mess. “Unless the United States can get its own fiscal house in order, while at the same time maintaining the unmatched flexibility and capacity for innovation in its market-driven economy,” they write, “it will not be able to preserve its position in Asia or the wider world.”

• Corner readers get frequent reports about Iran. A good supplement would be to poke your head in the Heritage Foundation’s Iran Briefing Room every now and then. The latest update is a concise explanation of the Iranian nuclear threat, in the form of a memo to the president-elect.

• For background on the lingering crisis in Zimbabwe, you can consult recent Cato Institute publications on Robert Mugabe’s electoral theft and hyperinflationary policies.

• In response to yesterday’s meeting between Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the Center for Security Policy offers a useful discussion of current relations with our southern neighbor.

• The Center for Strategic and International Studies has a New European Democracies Project focused on the political and economic progress of former Communist states. Its director, Janusz Bugajski, has an interesting take on how Russia is likely to react to an incoming U.S. president who is personally popular overseas.

• Over at the Hoover Institution, Peter Berkowitz writes in Policy Review about the European Left, the American Left, and Bernard-Henri Lévy. A key passage:

The American left is not the European left, but the symptoms Lévy diagnoses on his side of the Atlantic are visible on ours, and cutting-edge American progressives do sometimes display in their full-blown form the pathologies of which he writes. And unlike in France, Germany, and Italy, where, since the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, conservatives have won elections and currently lead governments, in America progressives will soon control both the executive branch and the legislative branch and, in a few years, could, through appointments, dominate the federal judiciary as well. These are not circumstances well-calculated to keep in check the excesses to which the left is inclined.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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