Though many are filled to the brim with New Year’s cheer, numerous sobering realities persist, for the turn of the calendar has brought an end to neither the world’s ills nor the nation’s challenges.
Rather, we find ourselves at a peculiar moment in history—a time of change, a time of turmoil. We uneasily look over the horizon towards Russia and China, wondering whether their ambitions will be contained by their serious social, political, and economic vulnerabilities. We look tiredly but dutifully towards a Middle East whose perpetual turbulence grows more dangerous with the passage of time and the steady march of destructive technology. We look towards our own shores, peering at fiscal disarray in all corners, trying to decipher how much was inevitable, unstoppable, and unpredictable—and how much was due to corruption, complacency, and covetousness.
The rise of a new year, unfortunately, has not made these specters disappear. Men and women across the globe cower in their presence, awed by their ghostly nature, all the while wondering when the dark will surrender to the dawn. To these mysteries and many more, there are no clear solutions.
Indeed, we here at The Stanford Review wrestle with these same questions. We do not pretend to know all the answers. But within our pages, you will find honest attempts to report, describe, and unravel the puzzles that stand before us all.
This very issue contains many such efforts: a Jewish student, studying abroad in Israel, trying to make sense of the newest episode in a continuing saga; a former State Senate candidate peeling away the mysterious layers of California’s budget calamity; students investigating foreign countries firsthand, reflecting on both their journeys and those of whole nations.
Political developments of a national nature have not been neglected. Indeed, over the course of this month—the end of our first volume for the 2008-2009 school year—we will cover what promise to be some of the most pressing and engaging stories for some time. In this issue, three writers offer competing diagnoses for a Republican Party crippled by consecutive defeats, a wildly unpopular president, and the loss of its traditional identity. Another writer examines Obama’s emerging cabinet. Still another, fresh from an internship at the National Economic Council, inspects the political ramifications of the auto bailout.
Maintaining our own commitment to diversity of content, we also offer reviews of myopic Hollywood garbage (the film Australia) and perceptive scholarly writings (Professor James Sheehan’s Where Have All the Soldiers Gone? The Transformation of Modern Europe).
So, as we here at The Review peer through our looking-glass at worlds frightening and fantastic, we invite you to take a glance along with us. But be not discouraged by what you see; lose neither hope nor perspective. After all, the world is still a pretty great place to live. Enjoy the new year.