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
It’s an increasingly hard world for those seeking a better life in richer countries. Immigrants aren’t welcome in most states, even where demographic trends reflect the need to expand the labor force to levels able to sustain and support aging populations.
Closing a major university is a big deal. Created, staffed and maintained at large, usually public, expense, universities serve both a utilitarian and an idealistic purpose: to provide the highly-educated workforce modern economies require, and to uphold and further civilized values through the understanding of the world the various academic disciplines claim to provide.
The Italian crisis is over, and has just begun. Its dimensions go far beyond Italy; they are now European, even global. The near three-month long improvisations on a theme of governance ended Thursday with the announcement of an administration headed by Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no government experience tasked with running a cabinet controlled by the leaders of the two parties which form that administration – a signal of weak, divided and warring politics at the summit of power for the foreseeable future.
In 1972, a time of great stress in the White House and in the Italian economy, President Richard Nixon asked to reflect on the fate of Italy’s currency, famously snapped: “I don’t give a shit about the lira!” His line, recorded amid his Watergate travails, points to Italy being of peripheral concern to the world’s great ones.
In at least one thing, in its present time of troubles, the United Kingdom remains pre-eminent. Queen Elizabeth II (92), is the longest-serving head in the world, both of a state and a royal family whose magnificence and capacity for display easily tops anything else in the West. Though far outranked in wealth by the Sultan of Brunei (71), and in both wealth and power by King Salman of Saudi Arabia (82), she has a firm base of popularity. Good for her; a problem for her successors.
Does Europe still have a partner, a big brother across the water? One which can be a scold, a nag, an annoyance, a puzzle – but which has always been there for it? A partner that is also a protector, with a military and security network of unrivalled power and reach? Is the United States still that partner?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been mad at the West for years. Indeed, he came to office mad at the West, because he thought the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century,” and has blamed NATO expansion for post-Cold War tensions with Russia.
Emmanuel Macron, the 40-year-old president of France, came to the United States this week to cement his relationship with Donald Trump, the 71-year-old U.S. president he calls his good friend. He came, too, to save the Iran nuclear deal.
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.