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Yet another bout of worry about long-term U.S. decline has generated yet another countersurge of defensive optimism. What new books by Robert Kagan and Robert Lieber miss, however, is the critical role played by multilateral institutions in the perpetuation of the United States' global leadership.
See more in Culture and Foreign Policy, U.S. Strategy and Politics
As the global financial sector has swelled, the gap between the rich and the poor has grown. Three new books -- by James Galbraith, Robert Shiller, and Charles Ferguson -- come down differently on how much banks are to blame for inequality and what the government should do about it.
See more in Economics, U.S. Strategy and Politics
With Vladimir Putin back in power in Russia, understanding him is more important than ever. Two recent books attempt to unravel the mystery, adding new insight into the Russian leader's life and rule.
See more in Europe/Russia, Nation Building
A new book aims to settle the long-running debate over democracy and "Asian values," arguing that culture is not to blame for the fact that only six of the 16 countries of East and Southeast Asia are functioning democracies.
See more in Asia, Religion and Politics
Democratic revolutionaries always confront the same problem: how to replace the old order without replicating its flaws. A new biography of the French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre's reveals that today's radicals might learn from Robespierre's failure to resolve that dilemma.
See more in Political Movements, U.S. Strategy and Politics
Given the threats it faces, from nuclear-armed autocracies to terrorists, the United States cannot afford to scale back its military, argues Paul Miller. Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen reply that the danger of these challenges is vastly exaggerated and that an overly militarized foreign policy has not made the country safer.
See more in United States, International Peace and Security
Iraq is hardly the failed state that Ned Parker portrayed in these pages, argues Antony Blinken, the U.S. vice president's national security adviser. Norman Ricklefs sees Iraq's politics becoming more moderate and less sectarian. Parker replies that despite these improvements, Baghdad still violates human rights and ignores the rule of law.
See more in Iraq, Democracy and Human Rights
Brazil's rise never depended on the sale of commodities, and thanks to recent reforms, the country will continue to prosper, write Shannon O'Neil, Richard Lapper, and Larry Rohter. Ronaldo Lemos, meanwhile, claims that those reforms have not gone far enough.
See more in Brazil, Economics
The link between crime and the state is neither as new nor as scary as Moisés Naím depicted it, argues Peter Andreas; after all, criminals have been corrupting governments for centuries.
See more in International Crime, International Law
Populations throughout the developed world are aging and shrinking, with dire consequences. Yet decline is not inevitable. Even in the industrialized world, governments can encourage childbearing through policies that let women reconcile work and family.
See more in Population, Women
With the Iraq war over and U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan, the U.S. Army faces a decade of change, writes its chief of staff. It will need to adjust to smaller budgets, focus more on Asia, and embrace a fuller range of potential missions.
See more in United States, Defense Strategy
Mexico is winning its death match against the drug cartels and rebuilding once-corrupt institutions in the process. But an election is approaching, and the candidates are calling for a truce. Mexico can take its place in the sun, but only if it wipes out the cartels for good.
See more in Mexico, Drugs
In 64 BC, the great Roman lawyer and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero ran for consul. His younger brother, Quintus, wrote a detailed strategy memo laying out just what Marcus needed to do to win. It's the best guide to electioneering you'll ever read, presented here with a commentary by the legendary political consultant James Carville.
See more in United States, U.S. Election 2012
Judged by the standard of protecting U.S. interests, things have worked out quite well for the Obama administration; judged by the standard of midwifing a new global order, they remain a work in progress.
See more in United States, Foreign Policy History
When it comes to Iran's nuclear program, then, the United States and its allies should get out of the way and let Iran's worst enemies -- its own leaders -- gum up the process on their own.
See more in Iran, Weapons of Mass Destruction
As Europe emerges from economic crisis, a larger challenge remains: finally turning the eurozone into an optimal currency area, with economies similar enough to sustain a single monetary policy.
See more in Europe/Russia, Financial Crises
The West's recent growth was dependent on borrowing. Going even further into debt now won't help; instead, countries need to address the underlying flaws in their economies.
See more in United States, Financial Crises
Brazil's economy depends too much on high commodity prices, and as demand falls, so may Brazil.
See more in Brazil, Economic Development
Unions are declining, and the working and middle classes are paying the price. Reviving labor won't be easy -- but doing so is critical to preserving America's economic and social health.
See more in United States, Labor
Mafia states enjoy the unhealthy advantages of their hybrid status: they're as nimble as gangs and as well protected as governments, and thus more dangerous than either.
See more in International Crime, Society and Culture