Special Report

The President and the World

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The results are in, and Barack Obama will return for a second term as president of the United States.

But as Joe Biden might say, gird your loins: A victorious Obama faces a world of trouble, from a China determined to challenge U.S. primacy in the Pacific to an Iran that shows few signs of buckling in the face of international pressure to an Arab world still very much in the throes of upheaval and chaos. America’s adversaries are looking for any hints of weakness. And its friends and allies will be demanding leadership from a U.S. president who has been consumed with his own re-election for the past 18 months.

So what now? Foreign Policy asked 14 top analysts to peer beyond Wednesday’s headlines and examine the longer-term issues confronting the United States, from Europe’s debt morass to North Korea’s dangerous nuclear program, sagging U.S. competitiveness to worsening climate change. It’s a daunting list. Is Obama sure he wants the job?

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  • Human Rights

    Human Rights
    By Kenneth Roth

  • Europe
    By Heather A. Conley

  • National Security

    National Security
    By James Dobbins

  • Climate Change

    Climate Change
    By Bjørn Lomborg

  • Middle East

    Middle East
    By Shadi Hamid

  • Pakistan

    Pakistan
    By C. Christine Fair

  • China

    China
    By Daniel Twining

  • Nuclear Weapons

    Nuclear Weapons
    By Joe Cirincione

  • Free Trade

    Free Trade
    By Clyde Prestowitz

  • North Korea

    North Korea
    By Joel S. Wit and Jenny Town

  • Latin America

    Latin America
    By Michael Shifter

  • Africa
    By Mvemba Phezo Dizolele

  • Russia

    Russia
    By Dmitri Trenin

  • India

    India
    By Sadanand Dhume

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Special Report

Who Won the Great Recession?

In November 1929, days after a stock market crash in New York sent shock waves through the global financial system, the Economist optimistically assured its British readers, "The material prosperity of the United States is too firmly based, in our opinion, for a revival in industrial activity -- even if we have to face an immediate recession of some magnitude -- to be long delayed." That caveat was the first known use of the "r" word to describe a temporary slowdown of industrial activity -- and not the last time it would feel hopelessly inadequate to describe the event taking place. In the United States, that "recession of some magnitude" would plunge the country into economic distress for a decade, obliterate the livelihoods of millions of Americans, and eventually lead to the creation of the modern American welfare state. Its effects abroad would be even more profound: the rise of fascism, another catastrophic world war, the fundamental reordering of global politics. The optimists were a little more reserved this time around. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S. recession technically began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, though it certainly doesn't feel over for the more than 8 percent of American workers who are still unemployed. But of course, the "Great Recession" has long since gone beyond its technical definition to become a shorthand for the era -- one in which millions around the world are out of work and long-dominant institutions and ideas may never recover their credibility.

The downturn has demonstrated the dangers of unregulated financial speculation, upended governments from Reykjavik to Cairo, and may yet prove the undoing of one of the late 20th century's most audacious undertakings -- the political and economic integration of Europe after centuries of war and mistrust. Still, the creative destruction unleashed by the crisis has had its upside too. For all the losers who have suffered over the last four years -- the presidents and CEOs who have fallen from power, the workers searching for work -- others are emerging from the crisis stronger than ever before. So from food trucks to Tinseltown moguls, climate skeptics to declinist pundits, here's our look at some of the biggest winners from this period of distress and dislocation. McDonald's franchises and makeup counters, online education and the superrich who got us into this mess in the first place, might not seem like obvious beneficiaries of the crash, but at a time when the future still seems dangerously uncertain, these are the closest things out there to sure bets.

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  • McDonald’s

    McDonald's
    By Frederick Kaufman

  • These 7 Countries
    By Joshua E. Keating

  • Hollywood

    Hollywood
    By Stephen Galloway

  • Capitalism

    Capitalism
    By Slavoj Zizek

  • Nouriel Roubini

    Nouriel Roubini
    By Daniel Altman

  • Climate Deniers

    Climate Deniers
    By Kate Sheppard

  • Higher Ed

    Higher Ed
    By Ben Wildavsky

  • Extremists

    Extremists
    By J.M. Berger

  • Declinist Pundits

    Declinist Pundits
    By Joseph S. Nye

  • Cheapskates, Pessimists & Food Trucks

    Cheapskates, Pessimists & Food Trucks
    By Tyler Cowen

  • Unlivable Cities

    The Ultra-Rich
    By Michael Lind

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