The modern world is a deeply dysfunctional place, as analysts and the media frequently report. But in The Fix, Jonathan Tepperman sets out to depict many things that are going right in the world. In what he describes as an inherently optimistic study, Tepperman travels to Indonesia to detail how that nation defeated terrorism, to Canada for a look at Ottawa’s embrace of immigrants and to Botswana to report on how a poor country found diamond riches and didn’t descend into long-term pathology. In all, Tepperman’s engaging study lays out nine public-policy challenges and draws up 10 case studies of effective responses. (Gridlock gets two chapters.)
In some instances, Tepperman’s case studies are hard to argue with. Canada’s economy has indeed benefited from embracing multiculturalism, and Indonesia’s efforts (however controversial) to undercut Islamic extremism do appear to have born fruit. Other case studies are likely to be more contentious. For instance, Tepperman sings the praises of the US fracking boom – a rosy outlook not shared by some who live in shale country. And he credits Paul Kagame with saving Rwanda, amid a growing outcry about the leader’s authoritarian leanings. To his credit, Tepperman acknowledges this caveat, as well as other instances where the optimistic scenarios might be tempered by a reality check. The Pollyanna approach has its advantages: With so much political division sweeping the globe, and with so many problems seemingly built to resist solutions, an upbeat take on the world’s problems brings a welcome respite from the steady drumbeat of dreary news coverage and downbeat analysis.
About the Author
Jonathan Tepperman is Editor in Chief of Foreign Policy magazine. He studied English at Yale and law at Oxford and New York University.