Having trouble figuring out what to get someone who spends all day talking about the merits of collectivizing eurozone debt and the high stakes of the Senkaku Islands dispute? Well, we can't help if you're having trouble living with that person, but as the holidays approach, FP is here with some gift suggestions to make life a bit easier. And if that person happens to be you, well, here's 15 holiday presents to make you or your loved one the envy of the foreign policy community.
A drone of your own
If your only idea of a drone is the remotely piloted military machine raining death on the hinterlands of Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, think again. 2012 was the year of the drone, and they have now become a huge consumer phenomenon -- so much so that former Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson left the publication this fall to work full-time on his drone startup. Drones are now widely available on the Internet, and sites like udrones are selling them for as low as $550, which includes an autopilot and GPS system (the camera kit comes separately). If that's out of your price range, there are some less expensive options -- though as the price decreases, the features begin to drop off. For $299, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter gives you an HD video-equipped drone that you can control using a smartphone or tablet. The lack of an autopilot system, however, limits its range to about 165 feet. The major difference between the larger, more expensive drones and the smaller cousins is autopilot, which allows you to plot missions and set the drone on its merry way. Just keep in mind that federal regulators are unlikely to bless your plan to deliver Mexican food by unmanned aerial vehicle.
The soundtrack of China's political transition
Long before Xi Jinping became a household name during China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition this year, it was his wife Peng Liyuan -- an accomplished Chinese folk and opera singer, and the civilian equivalent of a major general in the People's Liberation Army -- who was the superstar. If China experts are going to put in long hours parsing the mysterious machinations of the Communist Party, they might as well have the Chinese first lady's best tracks -- from "On the Fields of Hope" to "Putting the Horses to Pasture on the Mountain" -- playing in the background. (For music fans hoping to familiarize themselves with 2012's other super-topical musical act, keep in mind that Pussy Riot doesn't record albums.)
Risk meets American decline
In a year that's featured ample talk about doomsday scenarios, American exceptionalism, rising Asian powers, and declining U.S. military spending, Fantasy Flight Games has come out with the perfect board game. In its remake of the 1986 classic Fortress America, the United States, after unveiling a massive satellite- and laser-equipped missile defense system, must repel an invasion by the Asian People's Alliance from the west, the Central American Federation from the south, and the Euro-Socialist Pact from the east. As FP gaming editor Michael Peck wrote in a review, it's "the classic game of Risk meets classic American paranoia, seasoned with a touch of poetic justice. Now it's America's turn to experience foreign military intervention."
A full serving of national security leaks
When the Obama administration came under fire earlier this year for allegedly disclosing classified information for political gain, White House critics cited the leaks in two scoop-filled, agenda-setting books -- Daniel Klaidman's Kill or Capture and David Sanger's Confront and Conceal -- as well as a handful of articles (a Justice Department probe into the leaks is ongoing). Sanger details the government's cyberattacks on Iran's nuclear facilities, while Klaidman delves into the administration's drone program and targeted killing policies. For full effect, deliver the gift in a shadowy garage or dark alley.
Mark the passage of time with Putin
Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is also a strong man, as FP's slideshows -- which include photos of him locked in a tense judo match with a Japanese schoolgirl and fastening a satellite transmitter onto a tiger -- attest. Why not tag along with an (often shirtless) Putin on his many adventures from the comfort of your own home with this 2013 Putin Wall Calendar? If you buy it this month, there's a special bonus: for the remaining few days of December you'll be able to pencil in meetings below a picture of Putin as a boy, looking as no-nonsense as ever.