Obama and the Gordian Knot of Politics

With the exception of a spike immediately after September 11, Americans don’t trust their government. Take a look at a graph of public trust from 1958 to 2014, and you’ll see the rate drop from around 70 percent half a century ago to the dismal 20-something depths of today. The government shutdown in 2013—the supreme expression of political gridlock—even further reduced that trust. With...
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The Failure of Nationalist Politics

The European financial crisis certainly prepared the ground for the growth of nationalist parties throughout the continent, particularly along the eastern frontier. Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Golden Dawn in Greece all benefited from the economic downturn. But amid all the attention the media has focused on this nationalist surge, it’s important to remember that many parts of the...
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Modernizing the Polish Military

By law, Poland must spend at least 1.95 percent of its GDP on its military. That’s just a shade under the 2 percent that NATO asks its members to devote. Aside from Estonia, however, Poland is way ahead of the rest of the region in military spending. And when President Barack Obama visited Poland in June 2014, Poland committed to upping its allocation to 2 percent, with an expectation that it...
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The Church as Opposition

Before the Solidarity trade union emerged in 1980, Poland’s primary non-state institution – and often anti-state institution — was the Church. Catholic intellectuals created discussion clubs and published periodicals. Churches were relatively safe places to voice dissent. John Paul II, originally Karol Wojtyla, became the first Polish Pope in 1978 and inspired many in his home country...
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Asia Smiles for the Cameras

It wasn’t long ago that certain pundits were predicting war in Asia. Back in the spring, the conflict over the South China Sea was heating up as China sparred with Vietnam over an oil exploration rig and with the Philippines over disputed reefs. Japan and China, meanwhile, were butting heads over a string of uninhabited rocks in the ocean between them. South Korea and Japan, both U.S. allies,...
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