When President Obama visited Berlin a couple of years ago he raised the prospect of an idea that circulated throughout the twentieth century: world citizenship. Eminentos such as H.G. Wells and Bertrand Russell contended that unless humanity embraced this nation, it is doomed.
At President Obama’s State of The Union Address scant attention was given to foreign policy. He did note that “the war in Afghanistan is coming to end;” but in reality the war continues. It just so happens the U.S. will be absent from it. Yet the truncated reporting on foreign policy is suggestive. Could it be there is little to report or is it more telling to suggest that there is little good news to report?
The confluence of bad news items has thrown the Turkish economy into a tailspin. Once the darling of Wall Street and a model for emerging markets, Turkey is now in the economic doldrums. Since the world downturn in 2008 Turkey has been faltering. The miracle of economic prosperity from 2002 to 2003 attributed to Premier Erdogan, now seems like a chimera.
The journalistic gunslingers have been out in full force targeting General el-Sisi and the new Egyptian constitution. This criticism, by the way, is bipartisan; it comes from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. What it comes down to is persistent doubt that the government’s pledge to steer Egypt toward a new era of freedom and democracy after the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood is genuine.
The continued refrain from the Obama administration is that they are engaged in a struggle against inequality. This may sound good for the denizens of class warfare, but in fact, it is a claim without substance.
Recently the University of Colorado noted that political affiliation and orientation would be a protected category in the university’s nondiscrimination policy. What prompted this action were reports from conservative faculty members that their viewpoints have been stifled.
In life, Nelson Mandela was admired; in death, he is venerated. As time passes, his life story is evolving from hagiography to beatification. There is something to admire in a man who stood by his convictions and altered the course of history by destroying the hateful apartheid institution. But the Mandela story has been so sanitized, it has lost any relationship to the truth.
The dreams of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, for the recrudescence of the Ottoman Empire are evaporating under the Istanbul sky. His party The Justice and Development party (AKP), is in disarray; a major corruption and bribery scandal has led to accusations about cabinet members and their families. The investigation prompted Erdogan to say “The judiciary will pay.”
The world stage is trembling with emerging challenges, challenges so deep and potentially fracturing that the globe may never be the same again. This is 1789, 1848, 1917 and 1941 wrapped in one momentous year. Wherever one turns, chaos reigns and, in large part, this dislocation is due to a United States’ reluctant to play its post-World War II role as the “great equalizer.” From the Middle East to the Far East, from London to the Levant, U.S. withdrawal physically and emotionally is having a profound influence on diplomatic calculations.
I often find myself in the odd position of addressing the question “why are the humanities disappearing?” In most instances my interrogators assume I will say something about the desire for vocational training in an environment where jobs are scarce. Clearly that is an answer, but a partial and unreflective response.