The reluctant reformer
The traditional French Socialist approach to economic matters is untenable in the current fiscal climate. Faced with plummeting approval and a fresh downgrade, François Hollande is poised to use his party’s unprecedented hold on power to institute reforms.
The Socialist Party, whose symbol is the rose, has never enjoyed such a mandate in France’s Fifth Republic. But unlike his predecessor, Mitterand, Hollande seems to lack the fortitude to implement a necessary program that goes against the Socialist tradition.
The policies of France since the Socialists’ victory reflect an ambivalence between hewing to their tradition and facing a brutal economic reality. Will Hollande’s supporters view him as the last real leftist in Europe, or yet another sell-out?
Realigning a divided America
America’s ideological divide came through clearly in the election results. Both parties must now recalibrate their message: the Republicans so as not to become a party for whites, and Democrats to avoid becoming a party for minorities.
Although the balance of power in Washington seems the same as before the elections, a combination of momentum and genuine peril should force concessions in the deadlocked debt negotiations.
What will become of the American dream in an increasingly divided America? As a weary population drags itself out of hole, the deep vein of pragmatism inherent in the American endeavor will force a reassessment of the nation’s driving ideal.
Those who have resigned themselves to the slow demise of American preeminence may have done so prematurely. A number of factors are lining up to place the US in a position of continued international dominance.
For Europe, Obama’s second term will probably mean a realignment of its relationship with America, which will take a more detached lead-from-behind approach, forcing Europe to pull more of its weight.
Now that his second term is confirmed, Obama faces some urgent challenges: namely, the “financial cliff,” the recession in Europe and relations with China. How he deals with these elements will effect the rest of the world.
Poland has long been viewed as a problem in the European landscape. Now, with a booming economy and political stability, it has become a beacon of hope and a power of example for the rest of Europe still struggling to break out of a recession.
There’s a growing transatlantic energy gap. The abundance of shale gas and oil in the US will soon make it not only energy self-sufficient, but also the world’s biggest petro-power. Can the same occur in Europe and elsewhere?
The threats to world stability now transcend national border protection. The only way to ensure success is to gradually adapt to new aspects of globalization and to continue to be vigilant.
Cyber security is a major concern for governments. The cat and mouse game between intelligence agencies and hackers is becoming a veritable arms race conducted with spies and software rather than guns and bombs. Governments now need a strategic approach.
Managing security issues involves definition, planning and day-to-day management. In this world of rapid change and flux, assessing any given situation requires a multifaceted approach to geopolitics that often goes against the grain of traditional strategies.
Diplomacy has become an art that requires a combination of balance and virtuosity. But it is very cumbersome if the decision-maker is laden with too much baggage. The time has come to get rid of old outdated ideas.
The art of scenario analysis is an indispensible element of international security. Institutions need to think seriously about alternative futures with regard to defense, especially as once stable regions now risk descending into chaos.
More people than ever live in urban areas. Technological innovations and better organizational strategies are the key to turning modern cities into cleaner, safer, more nourishing environments.
Hedging against natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes is a growing segment of the insurance industry. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, “catastrophe bonds” have gained prominence and promise to attract more interest in the expectation of further calamities.
America keeps getting battered by hurricanes – and in some of the most densely populated parts of the country. Governments are now ramping up preparations for the stronger and more frequent storms that scientists predict for the future.