Although the United States is currently enjoying something of a global strategic respite, the domestic foundations on which American strength depends are under threat.
A decade ago, when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, the United States chose to immerse itself in the greater Middle East when it had little reason to dive in. But now that most Americans want little to do with the region, U.S. officials are finding it difficult to turn away.
Richard N. Haass and Gideon Rose answer questions about Osama bin Laden's death, legacy, and what might come next.
The U.S. government is incurring debt at an unprecedented rate. If U.S. leaders do not act to curb their debt addiction, then the global capital markets will do so for them, forcing a sharp and punitive adjustment in fiscal policy. The result will be an age of American austerity.
Richard Haass’ perceptive insider’s account of the policymaking leading up to both Iraq wars -- one a "war of choice," the other a "war of necessity" -- holds key lessons for future U.S. leadership in the Middle East and beyond.
The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations have teamed up to propose a Middle East policy for the new administration, including suggested U.S. approaches to Iraq, Iran, nuclear proliferation, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Middle East economic and political development, and counterterrorism.
To be successful in the Middle East, the Obama administration will need to move beyond Iraq, find ways to deal constructively with Iran, and forge a final-status Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
In the twenty-first century, power will be diffuse rather than concentrated, and the influence of nonstate actors will increase. But the United States can still manage the transition and make the world a safer place.
The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on military might.
So far, the Bush administration has shown it would like to resolve its problems with North Korea and Iran the same way it did with Iraq: through regime change. It is easy to see why. But the strategy is unlikely to work, at least not quickly enough. A much broader approach -- involving talks, sanctions, and the threat of force -- is needed.
Stephen M. Walt cheers Bill Clinton for giving Americans the foreign policy they wanted. But a great president would have given them the foreign policy they needed.
The only certainties in today's world are that geopolitics are becoming more multipolar and that America will not stay on top forever. But the United States can protect its interests by embracing and defining the new multipolarity -- rooting it in norms of state behavior rather than just a balance of power. This means fostering international cooperation (so as not to do too little) and developing a set of guidelines for intervention (so as not to do too much). Trading some American power for a more stable international system would be a good deal for America and the world.
The crises of globalization will be solved by neither a super-IMF nor an unfettered market. Herewith, a third way.
Sanctions are a huge slice of the U.S. foreign policy pie -- even cities employ them. Officials like them because they see them as cheaper and cleaner than war. But in the real world, they are expensive, both diplomatically and fiscally, and seldom work. At most they starve large populations while leaving hostile leaders unscathed. If foreign corporations feel they need the ayatollah's business, slapping them with third-party sanctions only alienates their governments further. Policymakers need to think harder before they rush to push the sanctions button.
The end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf conflict sparked the Madrid conference, formal peace between Israel and Jordan, and some autonomy for the West Bank. But those days have gone. Even if Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu had lost the election, Arab countries would still be more preoccupied with economic problems, internal political challenges, and security threats from Iraq and Iran. But the end of the era of treaties need not be the end of the peace process. The plo should discourage violence against Israel, and Israel should disrupt Syrian support for Hezbollah. The United States must maintain the principle of territory for peace.
No single successor to the containment doctrine could possibly guide U.S. foreign policy after the Cold War. Instead, American policymakers must distinguish between the means and ends of policy and strike the proper balance between the contending schools of thought in each. The task is to fashion a sturdy intellectual framework for policy, one weighted in favor of American leadership and "augmented realism." But the drift toward short-term ad hocracy simply will not do.