At present, our nation’s attention is firmly and fairly squared on the high-wire political brinksmanship taking place on Capitol Hill, as President Obama and congressional leadership attempt to outflank one another in efforts to finesse the debt ceiling before tomorrow’s deadline.
There’s no question that the future of America’s AAA credit rating is the single biggest story in world. Frantic, behind-the-scenes lobbying to get a deal done makes for captivating political theater.
However, what can be lost amidst the hysterical atmospherics currently charged by the debt-ceiling debate and the general economic doldrums facing our country is a critical calculation of world events that can forecast U.S. foreign policy. The end of America’s presence in Iraq, Iranian ascendance in our absence and continuing security investments in Afghanistan and Libya are bound to define our interest in an unsure and unstable Near East.
But even now, as Congress inches towards armistice in the bloody debt battle — from which no winners have emerged — the world beyond the Beltway keeps spinning. Buried in today’s headlines, violence has dramatically escalated as Syrian protestors vow to test the mettle of security forces across the country. After the Arab Spring, questions linger as to “what next?” Meanwhile, in the failed state of Somalia, Islamic militants have massed to launch a widespread offensive against their famine-stricken countrymen, on this first day of Ramadan. Dark clouds continue to hang over Yemen, while Iran shells Kurdish fighters within Iraq’s sovereign borders. Perhaps most alarming, Israeli and Lebanese soldiers exchanged fire across the militarized border that separates the two states. Five years after their last go-round, Israel and Hizbullah are frantically preparing for another war.
It would be a gross understatement to say that it’s a difficult and dangerous world out there. The events we gloss over or misinterpret may come back to haunt us. Ultimately, solid analysis of world affairs must consider relevant institutions, political cultures and public policies as they are reflected through the dynamic prism of a broad base of sources, emanating from different societies. As the colossus of international relations, Francis Fukuyama, famously observed, you cannot understand any given culture — including your own — unless you can grasp what makes it distinct from all others. Ideally (and in particular for readers of the Spectator‘s excellent blog) that’s where I come in. It will be my goal to examine events, attitudes and international conditions that may have escaped our attention, and endeavor projection of things to come. As always, when reading the proverbial tea-leaves, I will do so with America’s strength of moral clarity at heart.
It’s good to be on board and I’ll look forward to the discussion to come