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The international financial community can assess its management of the international debt "crisis" of 1982-83 with a certain sense of satisfaction. Creative ad hoc solutions to individual countries' problems kept adequate credit flowing. Unpredecented cooperation among the International Monetary Fund (IMF), central banks, and private lenders restored confidence and prevented the "crisis" from playing out to a tragic conclusion--massive defaults, the freezing of new credit, bank failures, and perhaps ultimately a worldwide depression.
In recent years, the strong American recovery in overall production and employment has been accompanied by further deterioration in the merchandise trade of the United States with other countries. The reasons for focusing on American merchandise trade are not merely parochial; it is important for Europeans and others to understand that this poor trade performance of the United States reflects a disequilibrium in the world economy as well as in the American domestic economy. Political strains in many countries have been the inevitable result. The promises made at last year's Williamsburg Summit with regard to international trade and finance have not been fulfilled. If anything, international tensions arising from economic issues have increased during the past year.
For more than 50 years Argentina has been the bad boy of the Western Hemisphere. Since the military launched its first coup ever in 1930, only one freely elected government has completed its term, and that one was led by Latin America's most successful demagogue, Juan Domingo Perón. The country has since floundered between rule by the mob and rule by the military. Two years ago, it also gave the world the Falklands/Malvinas War, a seeming comic opera that turned bloodily tragic.
The political problems of Central America and their implications for the United States naturally have been foremost in the minds of those few Americans who have thought about the area at all. U.S. involvement historically has been motivated mainly by political considerations, and political events dominate the media currently. The economic situation today, however, is the one that requires our most urgent attention. In Central America's current state, political solutions are more likely to flow from economic events than the other way around. The people of Central America want jobs and food more than they want either revolution or elections; they cannot understand why we don't help.
The thesis which I will present in this article, and which I hope will be debated by the representatives of the 160 countries scheduled to attend the World Population Conference in Mexico City in August 1984, is this: --Population growth rates in most developing countries fell significantly in the 1970s. This has led many to believe that the world in general, and most countries in particular, no longer face serious population problems and that efforts to deal with such problems can therefore be relaxed. --Such a view is totally in error. Unless action is taken to accelerate the reductions in the rates of growth, the population of the world (now 4.7 billion) will not stabilize below 11 billion, and certain regions and countries will grow far beyond the limits consistent with political stability and acceptable social and economic conditions. Africa, for example, now with less than a half billion people, will expand sixfold to almost three billion; India will have a larger population than China; and El Salvador will grow from five million to 15 million. --Rates of population growth of this magnitude are so far out of balance with rates of social and economic advance that they will impose heavy penalties on both individual nations and individual families. Nations facing political instability of the kind already experienced in Kenya, Nigeria and El Salvador--instability in part a result of high population growth rates--will more and more be tempted to impose coercive measures of fertility regulation. Individual families will move to higher levels of abortion, particularly of female fetuses, and higher rates of female infanticide. --Developed and developing countries have a common interest in avoiding the consequences of current population trends. There is much they can do to change them, both through action to encourage couples to desire smaller families, and by moves to increase the knowledge and availability of contraceptive practices to families giving birth to more children than desired. --Unless such action is initiated, the penalties to the poor of the world, individuals and nations alike, will be enormous. And the ripple effects--political, economic, and moral--will inevitably extend to the rich as well.
Crucial to any analysis of relations between the West and the Soviet Union is a realistic concept of what kind of country, what kind of society and above all what kind of leadership we are going to have to deal with in the next decade.
Negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on nuclear arms control are at an impasse. Following the deployment in Europe of the first U.S. Pershing II and cruise missiles in the fall of 1983, the Soviet Union walked out of the negotiations on intermediate-range forces (INF) and refused to agree to a resumption date for the negotiations on strategic nuclear forces (START). Whether and under what conditions the negotiations will resume is uncertain.
We are on the verge of great changes in the international structures and effects of that most pervasive of mass media, television. We are passing from the era of the low-powered distribution satellite, which transmits programs through the filter of a broadcaster or a cable system, into the era of the Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), with a higher-powered signal which can go straight into the individual home.
There are disturbing indications that a major international dispute may be about to emerge over an important but little known area of the world's surface: the Antarctic.
Looking back over the course of U.S. involvement in the Middle East since World War II, and of my own personal involvement for much of that period, I am struck by the unanimity and consistency in America's perception of both its national interests, and its policy objectives, in the Middle East.
This article is a reflective look at the period from mid-1972 and early 1973 to the present, in terms of the evolution in the world situation and the course of U.S. foreign policy during these years. It has been, I believe, a time of marked deterioration in the overall world outlook, and the performance of the United States, as a nation, in the foreign policy arena has been at best mediocre--with only limited exceptions.