Read: June 2021

Inspiration: Had read Ben Rhodes’ first book “The World As It Is” and heard he had released a second book


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made”, published in 2021 by author and former foreign policy advisor during the Obama Administration Ben Rhodes, reflects on Rhodes’ time in the White House and the major foreign policy challenges that the United States faced during the Obama administration. He discusses the Obama administration’s efforts to address issues such as the conflict in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the global economic crisis. Rhodes also reflects on the current state of the world and the challenges that the United States faces in the 21st century. Throughout the book, Rhodes offers his insights and perspectives on American foreign policy and the role of the United States in the world. The book offers a unique perspective on some of the most pressing geopolitical issues of our time.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

After fall of Berlin Wall many move towards american ideals but in hungary Viktor Orban rise as social mvmt to find hungary identity (previously not nationalistic country bc holocaust ties, avoid identity), Orban promote Hungary identity over globalization post berlin wall 1980s (doing well but not widespread pride), Orban run to end corruption, Orban win 2010 after 08 crisis crush hungary due to foreign denom debt and deficit spending, Orban focus immediately on media and news (buy up and make propaganda), Orban paint us vs them (stoke fear, anti EU), blame Soros—say want to overthrow as fund NGOs, stop Soros law passed to stop donations to NGOs, Orban part of Fidesz party, elongated peace and stability post ww2 and cold war due to finally seeing abyss of nationalism and fearing it but as memory of horrors fade then walk down the same path, globalization driven by economics not stories that unite (EU for example no story to tie), need to build more identities locally, norm of history tends to be nationalistic pride and violence (peace is anomaly), Orban from young liberal to illiberal nationalist, Orban thinks Putin is great despite Soviet pain of past, Orban also support China (chinese bases in hungary get made in EU stamp), hungary has cronies working with putin cronies to enrich via overcharging for gvt projects, Nemtsov was yeltsin friend in russia who was pro privatization and democracy but up against oligarchs of russia and in auction for telecom company nemtsov give to Soros bid instead of strong arm oligarchs so oligarch tear nemtsov down via media, Nemtsov leave gvt 99 to parliament and back Putin 2000 initially (replace yeltsin post 98 asian crisis and oil collapse), putin redistribute ownership of companies to friends, Summers and Sachs advise yeltsin on privatization 1990s lead to corruption, 2008 Navalny blog take off to fight corruption (buy shares in oil company and show skimming profits), Putin and Orban say west is corrupt also just hidden and no morals but all the same, US says democracy but 08 bailouy more or less the same with reckless risk and profits and avoid taxation etc, 2008 russia invade georgia as georgia move to integrate with west—lowkey due to financial crisis popping up soon after (putin was pm, medvedev president), but oil prices plummet 08 so putin ramp up nationalism, Crimea is majority ethnic russian and separated from mainland ukraine as peninsula, putin not good at building just destroy vs china can build (russia is a ponzi scheme that will collapse), beijing is capitalism with techno-totalitarianism, china model US except in its politics and now US begin to mirror china, china all about idenity and humiliations of past, Map suppress confucius while Xi embrace mao and confucius, Greenspan 2008 admit flaw and mistake in US econ system for first time after 20 years of seamlessly guiding economy (coincide with beijing olympic show), china want to use data and surveillance to predict dissent and squash/manipulate before shows up—serve people so well no one care to debate democracy, china enabled by tech (use algos and AI to control and predict people), belt and road spend 150bn to build infra in 70 countries—make developing burdened with debt and export authoritarianism, leaders feel have to take china money now bc not want to be on bad side, movies never criticize CCP bc need china market, ccp control what people think, 1997 british give HK to china under one country two systems doctrine tim 2047 but Xi 2013 accelerate encroachment—control who could be elected to lead HK spark Umbrella Mvmt ’14, china has broad atmosphere of bad to talk politics (never criticize gvt bc can be randomly detained)—not dissinilar from US climate, 2019 extradition law spark protests (carrie lam HK chief exec)—had no leader so avoid crushed, random venues and times spark up, GFC end awe of american model, HK protests about maintaining separate identity, HK want to resist but increasingly look to exit, HK mvmt may need to become about something bigger than just hk identity, people come for the guy on top—careful what wish for if Xi, in 1980s US fund and train mujahideen fighters to fight soviets then they turn on US later (in pakistan and saudi, become al qaeda), war in yemen over oil and US now on same side as al-qaeda/saudi as support bin salman vs houthi rebels, 9/11 more b/c bin laden mad at own gvts that US support (not mad at US), america suffers fallacy of control—do x and y happen when in reality do x and foreign actor then decides (don’t control other end of transaction)

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