"Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus," wrote Robert Kagan in "Of Paradise and Power," published in 2003, just as the United States went into Iraq. Americans, he wrote, see themselves in "an anarchic Hobbesian world," where security and a liberal order depend on military might, while Europe is "moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and co-operation."
In reflecting on relations between the United States and China, Henry Kissinger in his 2011 book, "On China," notes that since he and Richard Nixon ventured to Beijing more than 40 years ago, "Eight American presidents and four generations of Chinese leaders have managed this delicate relationship in an astonishingly consistent manner, considering the difference in starting points."
Like it or not, the 2016 presidential race is now well under way. Republican candidates are flocking to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while Hillary Clinton, in-between $200,000 speeches at universities, is reported to be in seclusion developing her economic policies.
Word comes that Barack Obama's budget will, not surprisingly, call for ending the sequester spending limits now in effect. That's not surprising. White House aides proposed the sequester, but Obama thought it wouldn't go into effect because Republicans couldn't accept its sharp limits on defense spending. But with voters recoiling against foreign military involvement, they could and did.
Some columnists write New Year's columns chronicling the mistakes over the last year. I don't, but as this January has rolled on, it's become clear I've made many about the 2016 presidential race.
Public policymakers and political pundits tend to focus on problems -- understandably, because if things are going right they aren't thought to need attention. Yet positive developments can teach us things as well, when, for reasons not necessarily clear, great masses of people start to behave more constructively.
There are likely to be many surprises in a race for the Republican presidential nomination that has something like 20 plausible potential candidates. The first of those surprises came in the last hours before New Year's when Jeb Bush announced he was setting up an exploratory committee to consider running for president.
In an earlier column, I looked at the role the abortion issue would play in the 2016 election -- not very much, I concluded -- and promised another column on other cultural issues. Here goes.
No one in Washington much cares what House Democrats do these days. House rules tend to ensure that the main job of members of the minority is to show up, vote "no" and lose. And in the next Congress, Democrats will have fewer seats in the House than they've had since 1929 and 1930.
Were the polls wrong? It's a question asked after every election. Sometimes, as in 1948, the answer seems as obvious as the answer to the question, "Why did Custer lose at Little Bighorn?" Sometimes the answer is less obvious, as it is this year.