Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
Who will rule the world? It’s a subject that more and more becomes the conversation among Western politicians and policy makers – and its content darkens with every passing month. The consensus, if there is one, is that the world sits uneasily in a gulch formed by the withdrawing roar of the United States, the flatlining or descent of Europe and the rise and rise of China.
It’s been a sweet spring for autocrats. Three of them – in power in China, Egypt and Russia – are outside of what is commonly thought of as the democratic West. But the fourth, in Hungary, is in the West, and in the European Union.
Will Northern Ireland, otherwise known as Ulster, return to the civil strife which roiled it for much of the 20th century? In the decades after Ireland gained independence in the early 1920s, the Irish Republican Army, which never reconciled itself to the division of the island, mounted attacks on police and civilians in the province with the aim of forcing out the British. It had seemed, on the conclusion of an agreement to share power and end terrorist acts signed 20 years ago next week between the British and Irish governments, the pro-British Unionists and Republican Sinn Fein – the political expression of the IRA – that a kind of peace had come.
Is it possible to be an anti-Semite without being conscious of it? To take an active part in one of the world’s oldest and most fatal hatreds, yet to be able to say, with sincerity, that anti-Semitism is odious, not to be tolerated?
Ahead of Italy’s 1948 election, the CIA funneled millions of dollars – this when a million dollars was a lot of money – into anti-communist parties in Italy. The Soviet Union sent in even more. Former CIA officer F. Mark Wyatt recalled in an interview how Moscow delivered black bags of money directly from the Soviet compound in Rome to Italy’s communist groups. In those hungry post-war years, the Communist Party was rising rapidly in popularity after its wartime leadership of the anti-fascist resistance, threatening to beat the centrist Christian Democrats and other non-Communist forces at the polls.
Vladimir Putin won big on Sunday. According to the central election commission, the Russian president glides into his fourth term after winning his biggest ever election victory, with nearly 77 percent favoring him. His nearest rival was an affluent multi-millionaire communist who got more than 11 percent by presenting himself as a Putin-plus, with a program of nationalizing the oligarchs’ property instead of merely controlling it.
Those who feel left behind by the enrichment of the minority and the stagnation of the many are choosing to be represented by political forces that cannot give them what they need, and will likely make their lives worse.
First and clearest. The two parties that supported democracy’s conventional division – left v. right – failed in Sunday’s inconclusive election in the euro zone’s third-largest economy.
We know by now what illiberal democracies are. They are countries like Russia, Hungary and Poland, where the formal rules of democratic elections are preserved – though at times with credible claims of vote-rigging, especially in Russia – but where an authoritarian government so dominates the political and social space, so weakens the institutions of civil society, the news media, and the academy, and so plays on popular fears of foreigners and internal minorities, that choice is effectively skewed in one direction.
In China, women calling themselves the “silence breakers” have demanded investigations into allegations of sexual harassment. In doing so, they pit themselves against a macho culture, a Communist Party deeply allergic to independent citizens’ initiatives, and an exaggerated and assiduously-cultivated respect for hierarchies, themselves male-dominated.
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