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Does a global economy still exist? If one were to base one's judgment solely on the recent meetings of the world's most powerful decision-makers--whether at Geneva, Versailles or Cancún--the answer might well be "no." Conflicting perceptions, diverging priorities, and lack of any sense of direction suggest, indeed, that the concept of world interdependence has been lost in a policy and intellectual vacuum. Seldom have so many common interests run into so many common problems to produce so little common action.
The United States is now engaged in a divisive debate over international trade. On one side are disciples of the principle of free trade--the touchstone of American trade policy in the postwar era. Free traders argue that the interests of the United States, and of the world, continue to lie in reducing barriers, subsidies and other government interventions which distort the natural pattern of specialization and trade among countries. On the other side are those calling for policies to protect American industry from foreign competition. Protectionists argue that imports are causing massive unemployment and eroding the nation's industrial base.
So it seemed to Fred Charles Iklé, then director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, as he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1974. He expressed the Ford Administration's support for ratification of a treaty with the comprehensive if awkward title, "Convention on Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and Their Destruction." At the same time, he recommended that the Senate ratify the Geneva Protocol of 1925, already ratified by all the other major military powers, which prohibited the use of both biological and chemical agents in warfare.
On any single Sunday, almost as many Americans attend church services as go to all the major sporting events held in this country during an entire year. From its very origins, the United States has claimed a belief in a unique ethical foundation, a nation, as G.K. Chesterton said, "with the soul of a Church." Waves of immigrants assimilated the conviction that there exists a peculiarly American covenant with God and that the destiny and guidance of this nation, both in personal and national affairs, derives from that special compact. What was true in peace was assumed in war as well. The persuasion runs deep that America carries a moral banner into battle.
Since the end of World War II, there have been three watersheds in Sino-Soviet relations. In February 1950, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China formed an alliance against the West. In the late 1950s, there was the beginning of the historic split between them that transformed international politics. Then, in the early 1970s, there began the Sino-American rapprochement that, by the end of the decade, completely altered the strategic landscape and led to an incipient Chinese-American alliance against the Soviet Union.
The security of Western Europe requires us to explore a radically new line of policy to which, in the present debate about this subject, little attention has so far been paid.
Four years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's triumphant return to Teheran, Iran's Islamic Revolution has defied the doom-sayers. It has weathered a series of convulsions, any of which might have brought down weaker regimes. The failure of the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan stripped the middle class intelligentsia and bazaar merchants of power and influence, and deprived the regime of much-needed technocratic expertise. The hostage-taking contributed to Iran's diplomatic isolation and further damaged its economy. The border war with Iraq drained Iran's treasury and tested its military might. Terrorist activities by urban guerrilla organizations killed important revolutionary leaders and engendered fear among the populace. Yet the regime has managed somehow to survive.
Four years after the Iranian Revolution, three years after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Carter Doctrine, the Persian Gulf is no longer so much in the news. Many dire predictions were made in the wake of the double crisis of 1979. Some, looking at the collapse of the local security system and the vulnerability of the West's oil supplies to interference, saw in the Soviet military action an imminent military threat to the Gulf and a pattern for future Soviet involvement in this region. Many also doubted that the regime in Iran would last and foresaw a growing Soviet influence in its revolutionary politics.
In the post-World War II era Americans have had a pressing need to come to terms with two critical international uncertainties: the future character of Soviet behavior and the likely shape of the nuclear danger. One recurrent idea that seeks to deal with these uncertainties is the notion that the United States is about to enter a period of peril because of an adverse shift in the strategic nuclear balance. The idea was most in vogue during the 1950s, but it has recently been revived as the "window of vulnerability."