- Browse by Issue:
The consequences of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 have significantly changed the entire range of power relationships in the Middle East. They have done so in a manner neither desired nor expected by any of the players in this latest phase of the Middle East puzzle game. They have enabled Syria suddenly to emerge from isolation and humiliation and to seize the power switch of Middle Eastern diplomacy. They have diminished and rendered uncertain Israel's role in the area. They have brought the Soviet Union back into the Middle East in a position of influence from which it will not easily be dislodged. They have profoundly affected American diplomacy, drawing it away from a broadly based peace initiative and sucking the Marines into a narrow, dangerous position in Lebanon, where U.S. forces have already suffered serious casualties. And they have conjured up again the danger of a superpower confrontation in the area which neither power desires but which the Soviet Union may be less reluctant to avoid than in the past.
Apocalyptic predictions require, to be taken seriously, higher standards of evidence than do assertions on other matters where the stakes are not as great. Since the immediate effects of even a single thermonuclear weapon explosion are so devastating, it is natural to assume--even without considering detailed mechanisms--that the more or less simultaneous explosion of ten thousand such weapons all over the Northern Hemisphere might have unpredictable and catastrophic consequences.
The search for national security is a dialectic of hope and fear. Fear of war spawns demand for weapons; hope for peace feeds demand to control those weapons. Judging by the rampant growth of weaponry in modern times, fear is more fruitful than hope. If foreign policy is the management of contradictions, national security policy requires a synthesis of hope and fear, a prudent blend of arms and arms control.
If Voltaire were among us today, and if Candide, his hero, were traveling successively through the various nations of Western Europe, reporting on the deep social and political controversies which surround the question of intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF), no doubt France would appear to him as a nuclear El Dorado--a Panglossian wonderland where, apparently at least, everyone is/or the French nuclear force, against the Soviet SS-20 missiles, and for the impending NATO deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe. Everyone, that is, except for a small but divided minority composed of Communists, some right-wing politicians and analysts, a few left-wing Socialists and a tiny group of die-hard "ecologists." All in all, Candide would draw the conclusion that all is well in Socialist France--at least insofar as nuclear weapons are concerned--and that it must be depressing indeed to be an anti-nuclear "peace" activist in such a bizarre country.
Rarely is Canada's external policy the subject of controversy. The country occupies a relatively modest station in the world and exerts its influence through quiet diplomacy, usually coordinated with its allies, and particularly with its major partner, the United States. Canada's foreign policy reflects the nature of the polity itself: it is marked by stability, a penchant for compromise, and a distinct disinclination for rapid political change. Over the last 40 years, there has been a fundamental continuity in Canada's strategic policies, but there has also been a fundamental tension in Canada's position toward the two superpowers.
One of the occupational hazards of being a historian is that one tends to take on, with age, a certain air of resigned pessimism. This comes, I think, from our professional posture of constantly facing backwards: it is not cheering to have to focus one's attention on the disasters, defalcations, and miscalculations that make up human history. We are given, as a result, to such plaintive statements as: "Ah, yes, I knew it wouldn't work out," or "I saw it coming all along," or, most often, "Too bad they didn't listen to me."
For a quarter-century, the goals of American policy toward South Africa have remained remarkably consistent, but that consistency has served to mask sharply contrasting perceptions of the nature and direction of change in that country's racial policies. U.S. policymakers--including those of the Reagan Administration--have deplored official South African racism, affirmed the American belief in government by the consent of the governed, predicted fundamental change, and prayed that it would come peacefully. But beyond such broad outlines, American analysts have differed sharply in their specific judgments regarding the effectiveness of white-led change in South Africa, and the importance of black opposition to white rule.
In the five years since Vietnam invaded Kampuchea to depose Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and install its own client regime, the situation in Kampuchea has settled into what is widely viewed as a long-term stalemate. Despite strong international condemnation, and ongoing guerrilla resistance from the Khmer Rouge and other nationalist groups, Vietnam has retained close control over Kampuchea through its puppet leader, Heng Samrin, and has shown little apparent interest in either a military withdrawal or a political compromise settlement. U.N. and other efforts to initiate peace talks have been fruitless, and the prospect of a long-term Vietnamese occupation has seemed virtually unavoidable.
The current situation in Afghanistan is one of protracted war. The duration and character of the war derive directly from the Soviet style of anti-guerrilla warfare.
As U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick has represented a dramatic change in style and approach from her immediate predecessors (and, in her confrontational predilections, from all previous American U.N. ambassadors except for Daniel Patrick Moynihan). Her political philosophy, her attitude toward the United Nations and her relations with African delegates, in particular, are diametrically opposed to those of Andrew Young and Donald McHenry. They were liberals; she is a staunch neo-conservative on foreign policy issues. They saw the United Nations as a helpful forum for arriving at peaceful solutions; she considers it "a dangerous place" where conflicts tend to be exacerbated. They cultivated the African representatives at the United Nations and frequently represented black African viewpoints in Washington; she reflects the Reagan line, which is perceptibly friendlier to South Africa. These differences are not merely personal; they reflect differences in attitudes between the Carter and Reagan Administrations.