US Decline

A History of Decline

By Andrew Gawthorpe

The American people are renowned for their optimism, but the history of their political thought has a dark undercurrent of pessimism and a persistent fear of decline. Declinist thought has proven hardy. It has flourished come rain or shine, and history has often proven its fears misguided.  Its persistence can be explained partly by the natural tendency towards self-criticism in a liberal society, and partly by the manic-depressive nature of the business cycle. But it is also surely attributable to the very real problems that have faced American statesmen of every generation, problems which it was never guaranteed would or even could be solved. 


Peru: New President, Old Problems

By Antonio Sampaio

Ollanta Humala, a former army officer who once led a military rebellion to overthrow the Peruvian government, has been sworn in as the country’s new president. Eleven years have transformed his political views. He was once an ally of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and a fierce adherent of populist politics, drawing support from the poor and indigenous sectors of society. This year, however, he has attained the presidency through promising a moderate path, combining the reduction of social inequalities with economic development. 


The Dragon’s Appetite for Latin America

By Antonio Sampaio

For decades a generation of Latin American thinkers criticized the unequal relationships between the region and developed countries - especially the US. Their preferred weapon was Dependency Theory, which focuses on the pattern of poor countries providing cheap labour and natural resources to rich ones, and receiving in exchange manufactured goods in a way that perpetuates the backwardness of Third World economies. In the last decade, the rise of another developing economy, China, has made the old theory resurface. 

Obama in the UK

Obama’s Bush Doctrine Extended

By Alan Monsen

The challenges facing leaders and citizens are multiplying and becoming more complex in the post-Cold War international system. As President Barack Obama concluded his European tour in Poland, his rhetoric focused on a new reshaping of the international order for a new century. What has arisen from the various speeches and policy initiatives of the Obama administration is a blurred understanding of the post-1989 multipolar world composed of varied and competing interests. A constant theme is how this Administration builds upon the foreign policy agenda of George W. Bush, commonly referred to as the "Bush Doctrine". 

War On Drugs

A War to End All Wars on Drugs

By Antonio Sampaio

There is nothing like a pile of heads to show that there is something wrong with global policies towards drugs - the so-called war on drugs. The macabre finding was made in the northern Guatemalan province of Petén, near the Mexican border. When local farmers refused to cooperate with a group of men from one of the largest Mexican drug cartels, they were killed with axes and decapitated (27 victims in total and one survivor, who played dead and emerged from the pile of bodies to find the grim message left by the cartel members). A total of 40,000 people are estimated to have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón increased the armed response to the drug cartels in 2006. Now the war is going south. 

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

America and Britain: The Solid Relationship

By Andrew Gawthorpe

Middle Eastern television audiences and the residents of Abbottabad can attest that there has been no shortage of the theatrical in Barack Obama’s foreign policy. His first television interview, given to Al-Arabiya in the first month of his tenure, was an attempt to use his own background and charisma to make an appeal to Muslim publics, while the raid to kill Osama bin Laden combined dramatic theatre on a global stage with an effective use of American power to achieve concrete goals. These events have captured the imagination. 

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Taming the Dragon

By Jacob Hershey

The Third Annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), a round of bilateral talks that are meant to improve relations and cooperation between the two largest economies in the world, was held on 9-10 May 2011 in Washington, DC. For as much lip service as has been given to China as the nation to restore bipolarity to the world order, it seems more and more that the two countries are far too economically co-dependent to truly be opposite forces outside of their own bilateral relations. What was most interesting about this year’s round of talks was China’s open concern for its significant investment in the US Treasury, and how willing it is now to use its influence.