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According to Ian Morris, the author of a sweeping history of conflict from prehistoric times to the present, war can sometimes produce safety. But his account runs into difficulties as it approaches the present.
This is a book that the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street will both reject.
The recent deal over the debt ceiling guarantees that the U.S. government will reduce its spending on foreign policy, which will force America to scale down its ambitions abroad.
Not just American elites but the world, too, will need to adjust to the contraction of Washington's global role -- and Mandelbaum believes that this could lead to renewed great-power conflict as China, Russia, and other states compete to fill the vacuum.
For the authors of three new books about power and U.S. foreign policy, the essence of "the power problem" is that the United States has too much of it. But the era in which U.S. foreign policy could be driven in counterproductive directions by an excess of power is in the process of ending.
Despite the failure of U.S. democracy-promotion efforts, democracy is spreading across the globe, bolstered by the free market. Although the Arab world, China, and Russia present challenges, pressure for democratic governance will only grow as economies liberalize in the years to come.
American supremacy --military, economic,and social--is so overwhelming it can no longer be denied. Nor can the supremacy of three ideas that have come to dominate the global system: peace, democracy, and free markets. Yet none of these three ideas is universally practiced or completely secure. And U.S. power, although good at achievieng many things, may not be suited to the most important task: defending, maintaining, and expanding these goals around the world.
Henry Kissinger's Does America Need a Foreign Policy? warns that Washington could become an overly dogmatic superpower. For the new century he recommends returning to the oldest foreign policy of all: maintaining regional balances of power.
In this 1999 article, Michael Mandelbaum explains why previous NATO interventions, such as that in Kosovo, had just the opposite effect of what NATO intended, leading to civilian suffering and regional instability. James B. Steinberg replies.
In one sense Russia and China pose the same problems. An international order of trade and cooperation has been established, and the two countries are in the process of joining. But their central governments are weak -- Russia's military is quasi-independent of Moscow, China's factories do not heed Beijing. Humiliation over national decline prompts symbolic defiance of the United States. Ukraine and Taiwan remain dangerous flash points that call for tacit deterrence. Like adolescents, Russia and China are in a transitional stage requiring patience and guidance rather than confrontation.
President Clinton's foreign policy, rather than protecting American national interests, has pursued social work worldwide. Three failed interventions in 1993--in Bosnia, in Somalia, and the first try in Haiti--illustrate this dramatically. Preoccupied with "helping the helpless," the administration alienated vital allies, changed direction repeatedly to repair Clinton's sagging image, and let special interest groups harm U.S. policy toward Japan and Russia. With his domestic policy stalled, Clinton's opponents may end up painting him what he never wanted to be: a foreign policy president.
Expanding NATO east is unwise. It will not promote democracy or capitalism, and it is premature to assume Russian belligerence.
Nuclear weapons, as great enhancers of national power, are attractive to U.S. allies, orphan states left outside the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and hostile rogue states. The collapse of the Soviet Union has brought into the open the growing desire for nuclear status, which the United States will have to discourage through continuing diplomacy and security commitments. Thwarting rogue states like Iraq and North Korea may eventually require preventive war, though it might take a nuclear exchange for Washington to reach that conclusion.
Appraises (1) the admirable wisdom of detached watchfulness in reacting to the communist collapse, the end of the Cold War and the onset of German unification (2) the skilfull management of the coalition against Iraq for the liberation of Kuwait (3) the predominantly economic character of US foreign policy interests for the future
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