Does the end of the blue consensus mean that America is no longer able to serve as a model for the developing world as they modernize their economies and societies? Perhaps, one of this week’s essays argues, but America can still lead the world in figuring out what comes next—unless we give in to “the perversity, the blindness, and the gibbering pessimism” that insists that uncertainty is a bad thing. Nevertheless, it appears that President Obama is doubling down on blue, ensuring that this election at least in part ends up being a referendum on just how sustainable the American people think the blue social model really is.Much post-blue innovation and experimentation is going on in the education sector. This week, we noted a brand new student loan initiative startup which pairs student grantees with generous alumni, and allows the alumni to interact directly with the students as mentors and guides. In a similar vein, the online Minerva Project not only aims to bring the cost of high quality education way down, but also plans to maintain close ties with students after they graduate, providing the kind of nurturing network which is increasingly critical for graduates heading out in the world today. Nevertheless, more moribund, blue institutions such as the University of California system continue with business as usual, in this case funding vice chancellorships for diversity and inclusion and short-changing other, more productive investments. (Nevertheless, Chinese students continue to seek out an American education—a sign that no matter how troubled our higher ed institutions are, they’re still world-class and will continue to be so if reformed successfully.)Outside the U.S., the Middle East continues in its convulsions.
- In Iraq, Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites continue to flex their respective muscles. As former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a fugitive in his own land, unexpectedly and ominously visited his Sunni friends in Qatar and other Gulf states, the Washington Post reported that in a land of “300 Saddams”, religious persecution is on the rise.
- Americans working for NDI, a democracy-promoting and civil-society-enhancing quango, were detained by the United Arab Emirates as meddling agents of a foreign power—the latest in a series of such setbacks for a problematic feature of our foreign policy apparatus.
- Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah continues to refine his pronouncements on Syria, balancing support for his patron Assad and speaking out against the government’s violence (lest his Shiite brethren face a nasty backlash if Assad falls). But it may be too late to thread that needle.
- Egypt’s Copts predictably pulled out of the drafting committee for the country’s new constitution, further cementing the likelihood that Islamists would dominate post-Mubarak Egypt. And to prevent the worst of the lot from coming to the top, Washington is allying with the most moderate Muslim Brotherhood candidates.
- In a rebuke to the popular narrative of the Arab Spring as a youth-driven, liberal revolt against corrupt autocratic power, America’s foreign policy eminence grise Henry Kissinger summed up it up nicely: “The revolution will have to be judged by its destination, not its origin; its outcome, not its proclamations.”
In the ongoing Asian Game of Thrones, Nepal edged closer to China and away from India, and Myanmar edged closer to the United States. The U.S.-Pakistan relationship took a further hammering, as Pakistanis of all stripes denounced a U.S. bounty on Hafiz Saeed, the face of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group responsible for the massacre in Mumbai in 2008. And we got an unpleasant glimpse into the zero-sum mentality dominating the views of strategists in both China and the United States.