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Change the World - The New Yorker
MAY 27, 2013 ISSUE
CHANGE THE WORLD
Silicon Valley transfers its slogans—and its money—to the realm of politics.
By George Packer
Silicon_Valley  George_Packer  start_ups  Facebook 
january 2017 by jerryking
As America unwinds, Canada rewinds - The Globe and Mail
Lawrence Martin

Special to The Globe and Mail

Last updated Tuesday, Jul. 23 2013

The Unwinding by George Packer.

It tells the story of the descent of inner America, the collapse of structures as a result of deregulation, the rampant insecurities with the decline of permanent jobs, debates overtaken by extremes of opinion. Mr. Packer’s theory is that the United States has been Wal-Martized. Lower wages, lower prices, lower standards. It’s been good for the company, and as he says: “Eventually six of the surviving Waltons would have as much money as the bottom 30 per cent of the country.”

But the decline of the big economic middle is ominous, as is the seizure of the national discussion by polemicists. How can a country move forward without a rallying consensus? Not even Barack Obama, with his balanced mind, his instinct for compromise and his eloquence (as most recently manifested on the topic of the Trayvon Martin verdict) can stop the fraying.

The book’s author is not an American declinist. There have been other unravellings; rebuilds inevitably follow. But the context is different now. America’s greatest century is behind it. Its degree of dominance will likely never be the same.

In response to all this, how does Canada, the big neighbour to the north, position itself?...Canadians are divided in their view of the monarchy. I’m not an enthusiast. As was well argued on these pages Monday by Ratna Omidvar, swearing allegiance to the Queen is an outmoded pastime. But the British heritage is an integral part of our definition, our identity. A stronger etching of it in the public consciousness and a greater reach to other markets is not unhealthy at a time when American paramountcy is fading, when our dependency on the United States is diminishing, when a distance in the bilateral relationship is growing.

It may be the beginning of a big turn. There are still major stakes in play, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, but Canadian trade volumes with the United States are in decline after a century of continual growth.

That slide is expected to continue as Asian powers and others take up greater market share. U.S. reliance on Canadian energy resources is on the wane; some project a dramatic falloff. Although 9/11 has dragged Canada more deeply into the U.S. intelligence-gathering network, we no longer rely on U.S. defence protections, as we did in the Cold War days. Culturally, the workings of time have brought us a stronger, more distinct stamp. As for our border, it has thickened rather than easing away. We now need passports to cross it.

While Americans undergo their unwinding, so do we. In recognition of new realities, we unwind from them.
Lawrence_Martin  bilateral  crossborder  America_in_Decline?  middle_class  books  downward_mobility  demoralization  Keystone_XL  beyondtheU.S.  national_identity  George_Packer 
august 2013 by jerryking
Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Legacy
February 11, 2013 | The New Yorker | by George Packer.

The criticism that there is no encompassing “Obama doctrine” misses the point. Geopolitics today is too complex, messy, and various to be bent to America’s will by an overarching doctrine like containment, or a massive initiative like the Marshall Plan, or a single breakthrough like Nixon’s trip to China. A doctrine was what put the country in a deep hole; climbing out required restraint, flexibility, and opportunism. A first-term Secretary of State with one grand strategic vision wouldn’t have matched the demands of the moment, which called for a fox, not a hedgehog....The standard debates in American foreign policy—realism vs. idealism, heavy footprint vs. light footprint—don’t get to the heart of the problem with Obama’s foreign policy. It’s not that diplomatic engagement is the wrong approach; it’s just that the President’s first four years have given us the idea of diplomacy more than the thing itself. In a forthcoming book, “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat,” Vali Nasr, a former adviser under Hillary Clinton and the late Richard Holbrooke, argues that, from North Africa to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the White House has relied too much on the military and the C.I.A. (mainly in the form of drones) to guide policy: “These agencies’ solutions were not, and could never be, a substitute for the type of patient, long-range, credible diplomacy that garners the respect of our allies and their support when we need it.” In Nasr’s view, a White House that feared being called soft and wanted to keep intractable foreign entanglements out of the news turned to Clinton only after things had fallen apart, as in Pakistan at the end of 2011, when she moved to repair a relationship that had degenerated into outright antagonism.

Obama and Clinton wanted to “pivot” away from the Middle East, toward the Pacific, but a bloody hand keeps reaching out to pull America back.
George_Packer  George_Marshall  U.S.foreign_policy  legacies  diplomacy  Middle_East  Mideast_Peace  Obama  Hillary_Clinton  geopolitics  Pakistan  complexity  messiness  restraint  flexibility  opportunism  U.S._State_Department  grand_strategy  Vali_Nasr  CIA  drones  Marshall_Plan  foxes  hedgehogs  long-range  books 
february 2013 by jerryking

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