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Geopolitical Davids and Goliaths

The world's largest and most well-established powers are all stuck in traps created by their own historical obsessions – be it memories of past humiliation, claims to greatness, or both. Meanwhile, some smaller countries are looking increasingly happy, resilient, and stable by comparison.

PRINCETON – New Yorkers have come to expect traffic chaos when the United Nations General Assembly meets every September. But this year, there is also paralyzing congestion in the minds of the attendees. It seems like everyone is frustrated and despairing, with representatives from around the world essentially competing to see whose country is faring the worst.

The United States, for example, is consumed with talk of incipient civil war. Large parts of the Republican Party won’t commit to accepting election results. Yet while inflation and recession fears should give the Republicans an advantage over the incumbent Democrats in this year’s midterm elections, the GOP has instead focused on mobilizing its small hardline base with a deeply unpopular agenda of abortion bans and the inhumane treatment of immigrants.

The United Kingdom, meanwhile, is wrestling with post-Brexit chaos and fiscal destabilization that will worsen as the new government implements its supposedly pro-growth agenda. Italy, having removed a capable and highly credible government headed by former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, is now poised to elect a far-right government that will do nothing for the country – other than deepening its divisions.

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