- New Issue
- Books & Reviews
- About Us
- Browse by Issue:
The beginning of the 1980s has been difficult, and the problems will be mounting as the decade goes on. Judging from the experience of the past year, the Western democracies' firmness, their resolve to stand their ground, and their willingness to cooperate will be tested, above all, in the following areas:
Three years into the Camp David process, it is time to question its continued usefulness. On the level of their bilateral relations, Egypt and Israel continue to fulfill their respective obligations under the 1978 Accords and the March 1979 Peace Treaty. Yet attempts to elaborate and expand upon these agreements in an effort to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace have met enormous obstacles. Negotiations over the proposed "autonomy" for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are nearing a dead end. At issue are the most fundamental national aspirations and interests of the parties involved. Their differences on these issues can no longer be papered over by ambiguous legal formulations. Efforts to overcome these various problems incrementally are unlikely to produce significant results.
In recent years, American policy at home and abroad has seemed more pressed by events and less sure of its responses than at any time since the late 1940s. Since World War II, the guiding ideals of policy have been neo-Keynesian "full-employment" at home and neo-Wilsonian leadership abroad. It is difficult to count the achievements unimpressive. Along with an unparalleled domestic prosperity, America's leadership and power have coaxed the world into a structure of collective security and liberal economic interdependence--a pax Americana that has been, on balance, the happiest era of this troubled century. The present disarray of American policy arises from two broad trends that have increasingly undermined both its domestic and foreign achievements. The first is the apparently relentless acceleration of domestic inflation--a process that involves increasingly violent swings of the business cycle and a progressive stagnation of real growth and competitiveness. The second is the deterioration of American power abroad and, with it, the disintegration of the pax Americana.
Europeans enter the 1980s experiencing, for the first time since the cold war, a deep sense of concern--and even fear in some quarters--for the preservation of peace on their Continent. The decade began with speeches by European leaders, including President Giscard d'Estaing and Pope John Paul II, stressing the risks of a new world war, and polls conducted in several European countries throughout 1980 echoed similar qualms.
More than a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the West is still laboring under a vexing paradox. By comparison with earlier police actions in East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the vaunted military machine of the Soviet Union has not fared well in the attempt to "pacify" all of Afghanistan. Yet while unable to impose control over a ragtag army of underequipped, quarreling mountain tribesmen, the Soviet Union has scored two staggering diplomatic victories: it has succeeded in splitting the Islamic world and in accelerating the continental drift between Europe and America. Instead of infusing the West with a new unity of purpose, as might have been expected, the crisis over Afghanistan has left a legacy of confusion, distrust and resentment which, in retrospect, turns the many disputes of the past into minor family squabbles.
Americans who follow trends in Japanese security policies tend to divide into those who see little significant change, particularly in terms of the central importance of the U.S. alliance, and those who believe that Japan is poised to embark on a more assertive and independent course involving independent military capabilities and an important role in regional security. Which view is more nearly correct, and how the balance is struck between autonomy and alliance, are crucially important questions, both in themselves and in terms of U.S.-Japan relations.
The possibility that additional nations, or even terrorists, might get nuclear weapons has been a cause of deep anxiety ever since the first atomic weapon was exploded in 1945. It has been the subject of one important treaty (the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT) and more recently preventing proliferation was one of the central objectives of the Carter Administration, in an effort that generated intense controversy. Today an assessment of that effort is important because nuclear proliferation continues to be a most dangerous prospect in the coming decades_deserving of as much attention as the Soviet Union and the national security risks arising from dependence on foreign oil, as well as the basic economic problems of high inflation and low productivity.
I am sorry to say that I see this ravishment of the soil continuing at a faster and faster pace in the past 25 years throughout the Midwest, because of the cheap food policy and extensive exportation of our farm products that are being advocated by our national leaders.
Despite virtual invisibility outside the diplomatic community and antipathy on the part of many within, public diplomacy--the dissemination of America's message abroad--may become Washington's major growth industry over the coming four years. A neat congruence of personality, technology and history makes this a reasonable prospect.