The New Right is looking a hell of a lot like the Old Left – in the worst possible ways.
If you’ve been paying attention to politics over the past decade, you will have observed that there has been a major political realignment taking place over that span. From the Romney-Obama election in 2012, to the 2016 and 2020 presidential contests, to the 2022 midterms, we have seen a sea change in the dynamics of parties and the coalitions they cobble together in search of electoral victory. The most seismic shifts – and the biggest debate as to what they mean – have occurred within the Republican party and the right side of the political spectrum more broadly. In the years since one Donald J. Trump made his way down a gaudy escalator in Manhattan to declare his candidacy for president, the right has been roiled by arguments as to whom they should appeal and what policies they should therefore adopt. The populist surge that was unleashed by the 2016 election has made the contest over ideas and voters into a referendum on conservatism per se and what that term even means.
Since the 2020 election ended in failure for Trump and many of his acolytes – but without a resounding Democratic victory – the debate has only intensified. The 2022 midterm elections, from primary season through Election Day, were largely decided on this point alone, despite strong headwinds against the Democrats in power. Before the election was decided on November 8, the apocalyptic rhetoric began to heat up on the right; now it is at a fever pitch. These factors have combined over the past two years of Joe Biden’s presidency to create a Frankenstein’s monster that is oddly obsessed with, yet envious of, socialism and communism.
The Biden administration has a fatally flawed understanding of our position vis a vis our geopolitical adversaries; their consequent reluctance to capitalize on weakness betrays American interests.
Geopolitics has always moved quickly in the modern era, accelerated by rapid communications and technological progress. Swift nautical vessels carried letters across vast distances in the Early Modern period; railways connected the world even faster, fundamentally altering the human perception of time itself; wired telegraphy made it so that messages could be transmitted as quickly as electrical currents could flow, while wireless telegraphy – the radio – created mass culture as we know it; television and satellite coverage made those messages into a natural audiovisual medium, bringing global events into sharp focus. Now, in the 21st century, information can flow from one corner of the world to the other instantaneously and powerful human and computer networks can work together to analyze, contextualize, and present this data nearly as quickly. This technology allows decision-makers near-total perception of the information environment. The task of statesmanship is to understand this information, determine what is salient and what is not, and – ultimately – to make choices on that basis.
Regrettably, the Biden administration is failing on that crucial task. Instead of making timely strategic and tactical decisions to forward our national interests and grand strategy, they have seemingly adopted a policy of reluctance. In an era of rising Great Power competition and conflict, we are signaling impotence with respect to our two primary geopolitical antagonists – Russia and China – just as they are each dealing with significant weaknesses of their own. This is exactly the time we should be showing strength and capitalizing on the challenges of our rivals, but instead we are proving indecisive and hesitant. That is a recipe for disaster.
November 2022 has been a busy month in terms of international affairs. We’ve seen continuing protests against the theocratic regime in Iran, major counteroffensives by Ukraine against Russia, and the COP27 global climate conference in Egypt. In this Foreign Telegram, we discuss all three – recapping recent events, analyzing their impact, and explaining why you should care about each. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this tour around the world of foreign policy!
Thanksgiving is the best example of the confluence between America’s pioneering spirit and our national penchant for thankfulness.
Thanksgiving is perhaps the quintessential American holiday; we have feasting, we have football, we have family and friends, and we have gratitude. The last line item on that list may seem odd to associate with ‘Americanness’ as much as the others, but it fits in just fine. In fact, it is deeply embedded in American history, dating back to the colonial era, before the founding of the United States. The strong focus on thankfulness – to the point of dedicating a whole holiday to it – is peculiarly American, but can feel at odds with the classic stereotype of Americans as self-absorbed and entitled. In this case, the stereotype is dead wrong; gratitude is an American tradition that dovetails perfectly with our historic national culture of self-reliance, risk-seeking, and innovation.
Boycotting the Qatar-hosted 2022 World Cup is the right and moral thing to do, for myriad reasons.
If you’ve been following this site for awhile, you may recall my piece in January urging you to boycott the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing. In the end, that was an easy choice for me, despite my love for the event itself; China is a brutal totalitarian dictatorship which is committing genocide and actively seeks to destroy the American-led world order. Missing out on some hockey and skiing was a small sacrifice compared to the suffering of those persecuted by the CCP regime.
As with the Winter Olympics, I love the World Cup, the globe’s most important and prestigious soccer tournament, and enjoy watching it every 4 years. I have fond memories of watching my favorite teams – Italy and France – win the tournament in 1998 and 2006, and was very happy to see Les Bleus take the title during my bachelor party in 2018. But I won’t be tuning in this year.
The 2022 World Cup is starting today in the Middle Eastern host nation of Qatar. This year’s version of the quadrennial tournament is an outlier in many ways, not least of which is that it is being held in November, whereas the Cup is traditionally awarded in July. The other reasons, however, are far more disturbing – Qatar is a corrupt, autocratic, discriminatory regime which has no reason to host such a major international sporting event. To be sure, Qatar is no China, but it is still deserving of the boycott treatment. Here’s why.