Vol. 49, No. 3

In this edition

The rise of ISIS. The expansion of China. The very real danger that Russia poses to the West. With the possible exception of China, these threats were unimaginable before 9/11. Yet today, they represent perhaps the three greatest challenges we face around the world.

Putin’s Push for Power

In 2009, the Obama administration “reset” relations with Russia, an attempt at unilateral withdrawal and concession to gain cooperation from Vladimir Putin’s regime. Unfortunately, the reset has proved to be a miserable failure because Putin respects only strength.

Is Time Working for or Against Putin?

Even though Vladimir Putin faces no political opposition at home, he is presiding over a troubled economy that would keep any politician up at night. What ails the Russian economy? Take your pick.

Separating Fact from Fiction

As Russia attacks the post-World War II security structure, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is cutting through the haze of propaganda to make sure the truth is told and the message of freedom and democracy is promoted in oppressed regions of the world.

The War on ISIS: Getting Beyond Stalemate

One year after the President announced a campaign to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an examination of what the campaign has — and has not — achieved, and what more needs to be done to restore some semblance of order in the Middle East.

Why the Stakes are so High in the South China Sea

The South China Sea lies at the nexus of a global economy on which the prosperity of all major trading nations depends, which is why China’s expansion in the region is so alarming, and why the United States must stand with its allies and partners across the region.

The Price of Our Security

In the face of growing budget constraints, lawmakers must find a way to bridge the partisan divide and reach agreement on a plan to guarantee the nation’s security in an increasingly dangerous and volatile world.

The Indispensable Nation

A generational struggle is underway to win a battle of ideas around the world. As the battle rages on, one country must lead the way to victory — America.

A Lesson in Hope from Dharavi

In the past 20 years, free enterprise has transformed India. Between 1965 and 1975, per capita income in the country rose by just 0.3 percent annually. But from 2005 to 2013, that figure has more than doubled, from $740 to $1,570.

Tackling a Troublesome Tax Code

More than 40 states currently impose a personal income tax on income earned within their borders, regardless of the earner’s state of residency. With more Americans traveling out of state for their jobs, two Members of Congress have introduced legislation to ease this burden.

The New Epidemic

With the price tag for heroin, alcohol and other drug abuse totaled more than $6 billion annually in Kentucky, a look at how one community in the state is trying to fight the problem and prevent this scourge from ruining — and ending — more lives.

Ripon in the Reagan Years

With THE RIPON FORUM celebrating its 50th year of publication, one of the journal’s longtime editors looks back at the accomplishments of The Ripon Society in the 1980s and how the organization fought to keep the vision of “broad Republicanism” alive.

Ripon Profile of Larry Hogan

The Governor of Maryland discusses his first year in office, which has been marked not only by his successful effort to roll back the “rain tax,” but by his courageous battle to defeat cancer.

In this edition

As we mark another anniversary of 9/11, one can’t help but compare the world we live in today with the world we left behind 14 years ago. The terrorist attacks shattered the sense of invincibility that had built up in America following the end of the Cold War. In the years since the attacks, that sense has been further punctured by our seeming inability to shape world events. The rise of ISIS. The expansion of China. The very real danger that Russia poses to the West. With the possible exception of China, these threats were unimaginable on September 10, 2001. And yet today, they represent perhaps the three greatest challenges we face around the world

We take a look at these challenges and these threats in this latest edition of THE RIPON FORUM. Leading our coverage is an essay by Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European and Regional Security Cooperation. In his essay, he writes about President Obama’s failed attempt to “reset” U.S. relations with Russia after he took office, and Vladimir Putin’s push for power in the ensuing years. He also offers up this warning about the direction the Russian President is taking his country. “As Putin advances,” the Senator writes, “the Obama administration continues to talk about offering Putin ‘off ramps.’ To prevent even greater destabilization in Europe, the West must realize that Putin isn’t looking for ‘off ramps.’ He’s only biding his time and looking for the next ‘on ramp.’”

Johnson’s warning is echoed by William Pomeranz, the Deputy Director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center. Pomeranz writes that Russia “has been put on a wartime footing,” and adds that, “Putin can’t back down from any of these policies without losing face.” But Pomeranz also argues that Putin’s time may be running out due to his country’s deepening economic concerns. “What ails the Russian economy? Take your pick. Up until now, Putin has always made sure that pensions keep pace with inflation and are paid in full. Now, because of the collapse in the price of oil and deep recession, that type of money is simply not available.”

Russia’s economy may be collapsing, but, according to Nenad Pejic, their PR machine is in full gear. Pejic serves as Editor-in-Chief of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In this role, he not only leads the effort to counter Russian propaganda, but understands the difficulty – and importance of – making sure the truth is known. “As Russia attacks the post-World War II security structure,” Pejic writes, “RFE/RL’s task has less to do with outsmarting censors – although new Russian laws are constantly expanding authorities’ power to police content – than cutting through a haze of lies and absurdities designed to blur fact and fiction and overwhelm reason.”

In addition to examining the threat posed by Russia, the latest edition of the FORUM also looks at the President’s strategy to destroy ISIS, which, writes Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute, is stuck in stalemate. Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security writes about the challenge facing America in the South China Sea, a region which lies at the “nexus” of the global economy, and one, Cronin argues, where the U.S. must stand up to China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims. And in a pair of essays, Gordon Gray and Rachel Hoff discuss the U.S. defense budget, while Patrick Jephson reflects on how the United States is viewed abroad.

In other essays: Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute writes about “A Lesson in Hope from Dharavi” and looks at how free market principles have transformed India over the past 20 years; Senator John Thune and Congressman Mike Bishop write about “Tackling the Troublesome Tax Code” and legislation they have authored to do just that; Trey Grayson writes about how one community in Kentucky is addressing “The New Epidemic” of heroin abuse; and, William McKenzie reflects on his tenure as Editor of THE RIPON FORUM and the accomplishments of “Ripon in the Reagan Years.” And in our latest Ripon Profile, Larry Hogan discusses his first year as Governor of Maryland and his courageous battle to defeat cancer.

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of the FORUM, and encourage you to contact us with any thoughts or comments you may have.

Lou Zickar