Foreign Affairs

 

Foreign Affairs

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Middle-Class Heroes

Author: Nancy Birdsall

The two economic developments that have garnered the most attention in recent years are the concentration of massive wealth in the richest one percent of the world’s population and the tremendous, growth-driven decline in extreme poverty in the developing world, especially in China. But just as important has been the emergence of large middle classes in developing countries around the planet.

See more in Global; Economics

Is Innovation Over?

Author: Tyler Cowen

Almost seven years after the Great Recession officially ended, the U.S. economy continues to grow at a sluggish rate. Real wages are stagnant. The real median wage earned by men in the United States is lower today than it was in 1969. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 1999 and has barely risen in the past several years despite the formal end of the recession in 2009.

See more in United States; Innovation

Learning to Love Stagnation

Author: Zachary Karabell

From Wall Street to K Street to Main Street, pessimism about the global economy has become commonplace. The world economy may have finally emerged from the financial crisis of 2008, but according to conventional wisdom, it remains fragile and unsteady, just one disruption away from yet another perilous downturn.

See more in Global; Economics

The Good News From Google

Author: Ruth Porat

Ruth Porat has taken an unusual path to the tech world. Before becoming the chief financial officer at Google in May 2015 (and then at Alphabet, Google’s new parent company, a few months later), she held the same post at Morgan Stanley, where among other roles she worked closely with the U.S. government to sort out the troubles at the insurance corporation AIG and the mortgage-financing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the 2008 financial crisis. 

See more in United States; Technology and Science

Fight or Flight

Author: Kenneth M. Pollack

The modern Middle East has rarely been tranquil, but it has never been this bad. Full-blown civil wars rage in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Nascent conflicts simmer in Egypt, South Sudan, and Turkey. Various forms of spillover from these civil wars threaten the stability of Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have risen to new heights, raising the specter of a regionwide religious war. 

See more in United States; Middle East and North Africa; Conflict Prevention

ISIS Goes Global

Author: Daniel Byman

The downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last October, for which the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility, may ultimately prove more consequential than the horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, that followed. Western security officials had long worried that their countries’ own citizens would conduct attacks after returning home from Iraq or Syria or strike out as “lone wolf” terrorists.

See more in Global; Terrorism

Can China's Companies Conquer the World?

Authors: Pankaj Ghemawat and Thomas Hout

Despite China’s recent economic struggles, many economists and analysts argue that the country remains on course to overtake the United States and become the world’s leading economic power someday soon. Indeed, this has become a mainstream view—if not quite a consensus belief—on both sides of the Pacific. 

See more in China; Economics

The Lost Art of Economic Statecraft

Authors: Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris

Despite boasting the most powerful economy on earth, the United States too often reaches for the gun instead of the purse in its foreign policy. The country has hardly outgrown its need for military force, but over the past several decades, it has increasingly forgotten a tradition that stretches back to the nation’s founding: the use of economic instruments to accomplish geopolitical objectives, a practice we term “geoeconomics.”

See more in United States; Economics

The Study-Abroad Solution

Author: Sanford J. Ungar

In the Internet age, the world feels far smaller than it used to. But many Americans still know little about the rest of the world and may be more detached from it than ever. Such a lack of awareness is, in certain respects, understandable. Once the Cold War ended, some 25 years ago, Congress, perhaps out of a false sense of security, cut the foreign affairs budget, which led to the closing of some U.S. overseas posts. 

See more in United States; Society and Culture

Japan's New Realism

Author: Michael Auslin

Last September, tens of thousands of opponents of Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abe gathered outside the National Diet building in Tokyo, often in torrential rain, holding placards and shouting antiwar slogans. They were there to protest the imminent passage of legislation designed to allow Japan’s military to mobilize overseas for the first time in 70 years—a shift they feared would undermine Japan’s pacifistic constitution and encourage adventurism. 

See more in Japan; Defense and Security

The Next Front on Climate Change

Authors: Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Jessica Seddon, and David G. Victor

After dithering for decades, governments finally seem to be paying serious attention to the problem of global climate change. Late last year, at the Paris climate conference, they adopted a major new agreement to limit global warming, beginning a process to strengthen commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time.

See more in Global; Climate Change

What Rome Can Teach Us Today

Author: Michael Fontaine

Ancient Rome was a village that grew into a world empire. At the peak of its territorial reach, AD 117, it stretched from the British Isles to Mesopotamia and from the Rhine to the Sahara. Its history spans more than a millennium. Before the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late fifth century, Romans enjoyed a standard of living not seen again in the West until the mid-nineteenth century. 

See more in Italy; Nation Building

Hunger Games

Author: Douglas Gollin

Nearly 3,000 years ago, according to the Old Testament, an army of Arameans, led by King Ben-hadad, besieged the West Bank city of Samaria. Cut off from its agricultural hinterlands, the city soon ran out of food.

See more in Global; Food Security

Diplomacy Disrupted

Author: Cameron Munter

Last December, during a debate among the Republican candidates for the U.S. presidency, Senator Ted Cruz attacked the idea that the United States should pursue regime change in Syria. If Washington tries to topple Bashar al-Assad, Cruz warned, the jihadists of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIS) “will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests.”

See more in United States; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Inequality and Modernization

Author: Ronald Inglehart

During the past century, economic inequality in the developed world has traced a massive U-shaped curve—starting high, curving downward, then curving sharply back up again. In 1915, the richest one percent of Americans earned roughly 18 percent of all national income. Their share plummeted in the 1930s and remained below ten percent through the 1970s, but by 2007, it had risen to 24 percent.

See more in Global; Economics

Inequality and Globalization

Author: François Bourguignon

When it comes to wealth and income, people tend to compare themselves to the people they see around them rather than to those who live on the other side of the world. The average Frenchman, for example, probably does not care how manyChinese exceed his own standard of living, but that Frenchman surely would pay attention if he started lagging behind his fellow citizens.

See more in Global; Globalization