Henry Olsen

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President Biden participates in an arrival ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the presidential palace in Warsaw on March 26, 2022. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Poland’s staunch support of Ukraine and its key location in Eastern Europe make the nation one of the United States’ most important European allies. But given its fractious domestic politics, the United States should tread carefully as it deepens its relationship with the country.

I recently spent a week in Poland as part of a study tour sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The whirlwind itinerary included visits with Polish economic and foreign policy experts, tours of schools and facilities serving the roughly 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees in the country and a meeting with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The trip helped develop a greater appreciation of the important role Poland will play in the United States’ relationship with Europe, but it also highlighted the challenges the partnership will pose.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester throws an object during a demonstration in Toulouse, France, on Thursday. (Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images)

If Europe’s impressive near-unanimity in support of Ukraine has given you a sense of political stability in the continent, think again. Recent events in France and the Netherlands show that the reality is very different.

Both countries have been rocked by populist protests in recent months. France’s have at times become violent, with union demonstrators and others furious at French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms clashing with police. In the Netherlands, farmers have been protesting the government’s new climate laws, which would dramatically reduce cattle farming and force many of them out of business. Neither set of political opponents is likely to go away any time soon.…  Seguir leyendo »

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Biden at a joint news conference at the White House on Feb. 7, 2022. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to the White House on Friday could be just another routine meeting between allies. Instead, President Biden should use the event to press for something riskier but more consequential: firm dates for Germany’s oft-announced rearmament plans.

Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse, but it is a military weakling. In the post-Cold War era, it allowed its once-powerful forces to atrophy, with its forces shrinking from more than 500,000 in 1990 to less than 200,000 in 2021. Its defense spending also plummeted from 2.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 1989 to around 1.5 percent in 2021.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a visit last Saturday to Diyarbakir, Turkey, after an earthquake struck the region. (Ilyas Akengin/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey’s horrific earthquakes are a human tragedy. It would be even more tragic if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used them as an excuse to postpone the country’s scheduled June elections. President Biden and other Western leaders should use their influence to prevent that from happening.

Erdogan has ruled the country since 2003 as head of the Justice and Development Party, also known as the AKP, the initials of its Turkish name. He has done so in an increasingly autocratic manner, arresting journalists and political opponents, though the country’s election mechanism remains largely fair and free.

In Turkey’s most recent elections, the opposition captured the mayoralties of its two largest cities, Istanbul and Ankara.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jacinda Ardern is right to leave office — before voters force her out

Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that she would resign as New Zealand’s prime minister and leave Parliament might have surprised her many fans globally. But a closer look at the country’s politics shows that she likely made the wise decision to get on with her life before the voters kicked her out.

Ardern burst onto the political scene in 2017 when she took over leadership of her Labour Party just months before the next election. Labour had been trailing the governing center-right National Party by about 20 points, but the charismatic 37-year-old captivated the nation, and “Jacindamania” pushed her party upward. Labour finished second in the election, and she outmaneuvered the Nationals to form a three-party coalition government with the Greens and the populist New Zealand First party.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force take part in a military review at the Ground Self-Defense Force's training ground in Asaka, Saitama, on Oct. 14, 2018. (Kazuhiro Nogi, AFP/Getty Images)

Japan announced on Friday that it plans to double its defense spending by 2027. That’s good. We will need it if the United States and its democratic allies are to contain China’s aggression.

Japan has long punched below its weight in global affairs. Despite its massive economy, still the world’s third largest, its tiny military has hobbled its ability to project power.

This was by design. Due to Japan’s humiliating defeat in World War II, combined with its neighbors’ resentment stemming from its aggressive war of conquest, the island nation adopted a pacifist sentiment that persists to this day. Even during the Cold War, Japan spent only about 1 percent of its gross domestic product on self-defense forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Concrete mixer trucks parked at a factory in Anyang, South Korea, on Nov. 28. (Kim Jong-Taek/AP)

The European Union’s recent decision to impose tariffs on select carbon-heavy imports such as steel and cement is a long-sought victory for climate activists. But the United States should not follow suit. These measures are likely to both increase global human suffering and strengthen China.

Unlike with normal tariffs, the E.U. will not apply equal charges to the same sorts of goods; instead, E.U. member nations will estimate how much carbon was directly or indirectly consumed in the product’s creation. That means firms in nations with more carbon-intensive energy consumption will pay higher rates than those that rely more on renewable energy sources.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this photo made available by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands Dec. 8 with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Via AP) (Untitled/AP)

The Biden administration is justifiably upset about Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s state visit to Saudi Arabia this week. Combating China’s rising influence in the kingdom and throughout the Middle East will force the administration to do something it would much rather avoid: emphasize our material security interests over our moral interests.

The United States has always approached foreign policy differently than other nations because of its founding principles. It was one of the first nations in the world to explicitly dedicate themselves to ideas of democracy and human rights. While it took more than a century for the United States to really start pushing those values on other nations, it never hid its belief that American principles were human principles, applicable to all people everywhere.…  Seguir leyendo »

The surprising news that Apple plans to move much of the assembly of its iPhones and other products out of China is important for more than just stock analysts. It is further evidence that Western companies are beginning to realize the risks of doing business in an aggressive, authoritarian state.

When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, businesses flocked to the country. Its authoritarian nature was quietly part of its appeal. Without democratic pressures or dissent, the communist government could “get things done”. Large manufacturing facilities could be constructed in a fraction of the time needed in the democratic, environmentally conscious West.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Biden speaks to French President Emmanuel Macron at a White House state dinner on Thursday. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

President Biden’s state dinner on Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron was a mutual lovefest. But no amount of bonhomie can mask the inevitable incompatibility between the two men’s visions for Europe’s future.

Biden is an Atlanticist at heart. He is fully committed to the U.S.-European relationship, supports NATO wholeheartedly and has courted European leaders since his inauguration. His international and cosmopolitan liberalism also aligns him closely with the values of most Western European leaders, especially on matters such as combating climate change. He is as friendly an American president as European elites could hope for.

Yet he is an American president, and as such, he acts primarily in America’s interests.…  Seguir leyendo »

An activist outside the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Friday calls for reparations to poorer nations for losses and damages because of climate change. (Peter Dejong/AP)

The announcement that climate negotiators at COP27 have agreed to establish a global fund to compensate poorer nations for damage wrought by climate change was hailed as a major accomplishment by climate activists. It might instead prove a major boost to anti-green populist parties worldwide.

The rationale for a “loss and damage” fund is straightforward. Developed nations caused planetary warming by emitting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere for more than a century. Those emissions, aided by the continuing rise in global carbon emissions, are causing sea level rise and worsening floods and intensifying other natural disasters in countries that do not have the resources to repair the damage.…  Seguir leyendo »

British Prime Minister Liz Truss announces her resignation outside 10 Downing Street in London on Oct. 20. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

The resignation of British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday morning puts an end to a month of economic and political turmoil. Republicans should take note of her mistakes if they want to avoid a similar debacle after the midterms and in 2024.

Truss’s first mistake was to push a radical economic agenda she did not campaign on. Her personal views supporting a low-tax, smaller government were telegraphed years ago in her book, “Britannia Unchained”. But she did not campaign for the premiership on that agenda. She had promised some modest tax reductions and offered rhetorical backing for deregulation. But those were far short of the sweeping tax cuts she and her chancellor of the exchequer unveiled in their now-infamous mini-budget proposed in late September.…  Seguir leyendo »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia after the results of the first round of his country's presidential election Sunday. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s surprisingly strong showing in Sunday’s election was yet another example of polls underestimating a populist, right-wing candidate. The results, which trigger a runoff election later this month, show that national populism is alive and well in Brazil, even if Bolsonaro ultimately loses.

Pre-election polls in Brazil had predicted Bolsonaro’s defeat. They did not overestimate the strength of his main opponent, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, projecting that the leftist candidate would come close to the 48.4 percent he ultimately received. But they were massively off on Bolsonaro’s 43.2 percent level of support, instead often pegging him in the low-30s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leader of Brothers of Italy Giorgia Meloni at the party's election headquarters in Rome on Monday. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)

Giorgia Meloni, who will likely take power in Italy after Sunday’s election, has caused much concern in Europe and the United States because of her party’s historic ties to neo-fascism and her praise of Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Those fears are overblown, but no one should underestimate the populist leader’s desire for significant political and economic change.

Meloni co-founded the Brothers of Italy in 2012 as a breakaway from the country’s main center-right party, People of Freedom. The Brothers was nationalist from its inception, taking its name from a line in the Italian national anthem. It uses colors and symbols associated with the post-war Italian Social Movement, a party founded by supporters of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, celebrates election results in Nacka, Sweden, on Sept. 11. (Stefan Jerrevang/AP)

A center-right coalition in Sweden narrowly secured victory on Wednesday, anchored by a national populist party called the Sweden Democrats. This has unnerved many in the West, but it shouldn’t. It’s simply yet another example of how the refusal of elites to deal with the legitimate concerns of voters is fueling populist backlash.

National populism, a term coined by British political scientists Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, is today found in virtually every Western nation. Its adherents tend to come from similar social classes — disproportionally middle-aged workers without high levels of formal education. They tilt male but include large numbers of demographically similar women.…  Seguir leyendo »

British Prime Minister Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street on Sept. 7. (Frank Augstein/AP)

Liz Truss takes office in difficult times. The new British prime minister, the fourth Conservative to hold the position in 12 years, will lead a party that is wracked with infighting. Britain also faces many serious challenges, any one of which would test a leader’s skill: war in Ukraine, a looming winter of discontent over energy prices and shortages, threats to the union with Scotland and Northern Ireland.

No one should be surprised if she fails, and many expect she will. But there’s one reason she should instead be tipped to succeed: her character.

Truss is not to the manner born.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday at 91, helped create our modern world. His most obvious legacy is the dissolution of the once mighty power he led: the Soviet Union. Just as lasting, however, is the force that the U.S.S.R.’s demise helped to unleash: nationalism.

The Soviet Union rested on the premise that regional and group loyalties could be subsumed under Marxist-Leninist ideology, institutionalized in the Communist Party, which preached that human beings would be united in the glorious future. Nations, religions and classes would fade into irrelevance as communism united the world.

Gorbachev came to power as this system was unraveling.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week’s NATO summit in Madrid shows that the transatlantic alliance remains a powerful force for good. It also shows how much further most European members must go for it not to become a strain on U.S. resources.

NATO has been floundering in recent years for an obvious reason: Its primary rationale had disappeared. It was created in 1949 to counter the aggressive designs of a Soviet Union that remained openly committed to global communist revolution. Its membership was restricted to Western powers whose aim was to contain the Soviets within Europe and prevent it from conquering more of the then-globally dominant continent.…  Seguir leyendo »

French President Emmanuel Macron’s loss of a parliamentary majority in Sunday’s legislative elections shocked most observers of the country’s politics. It shouldn’t have.

The forces of populism from both the left and the right have been gaining steam throughout his tenure. Ignoring those forces, as Macron has largely done in his first term, would be a recipe for disaster. The only way forward, for him and for France, is to embrace what he has long opposed.

It’s been clear for years that the French are souring on Macron’s liberal centrism. His approval ratings languished under 50 percent for more than four years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Attendees of the annual World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland, are reportedly in a somber mood. The past two years have upset their dreams of unfettered globalism as war, disease, inflation and famine reveal its risks and downsides. Their unease is long overdue.

The globalist faith rests on three false dogmas: The first — that unfettered trade with the world’s poorest nations will lift all boats in the developed world — is clearly the most fallacious. Rising economic inequality in the United States and other advanced economies is the result of increased returns for the highly educated and wage stagnation for unskilled workers.…  Seguir leyendo »