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In the almost four decades since the appearance of nuclear weapons, concern over the dangers these weapons raise has varied markedly. A preoccupation with nuclear weapons has characterized only a very few, and even among these few anxiety over the prospects of nuclear war has not been a constant. Beyond the nuclear strategists and a small entourage, the nuclear question has not evoked a steady level of attention, let alone of anxiety. On the contrary, the attention of foreign policy elites, and even more the general public, has swung from one extreme to the other and within a brief period of time.
Presidential campaigns do more than choose individuals for high office: our history shows many instances where elections have moved the country closer to a decisive resolution of long-standing issues. The 1984 presidential campaign gives the candidates a historic opportunity to build public support for reducing the risk of nuclear war. The American electorate is now psychologically prepared to take a giant step toward real arms reductions.
American-Soviet relations can be approached in two ways. One approach avails itself of the techniques of meteorology, in that it concentrates on taking regular readings of the East-West climate as manifested in the level of rhetoric emanating from Washington and Moscow, the prevalence or absence of dialogues and negotiations, and the intensity of their competition in regions outside their immediate control. This approach is favored by journalists because it focuses on concrete events which they can report as news and subject to instant analysis. It also prevails in liberal circles whose adherents believe that there exist no genuine differences of either values or interests among nations and that such conflicts as do occur derive from mutual misunderstanding or lack of conciliatory spirit, mainly on the part of U.S. administrations.
In 1985, Mexico will commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of its revolution. A new political system and social order was founded after 1910, which modernized our nation within a climate of democratic freedom and political stability. Now, toward the end of the century, Mexico faces harsh new challenges. Our economic development has brought structural imbalances which must be corrected, and we face the immediate impacts of external pressures, the international economic situation, and conflicts afflicting the international system in Central America, the Middle East and other regions of the world.
Through the workings of a multitude of causes-external and internal, spiritual and material-Israel has survived, not without unease, for a considerable time. Problems abound in all spheres: Israel's position in the Middle East, its economic survival and the coexistence of the various discordant components of Israeli society. Yet, strange as it may seem, no effective force in Israel today feels the urgent need for radical change in policy or direction. On the contrary, one can sense a widespread suspicion that any change would be a change for the worse.
In my last annual report as Secretary-General, I tried to assess the United Nations' ability to measure up to the new challenges of our times. "I have to say," I concluded in 1981, "that for all our efforts and our undoubted sincerity, the Organization has not yet managed to cut through the political habits and attitudes of earlier and less hurried centuries and to come to grips decisively with [the] new factors of our existence."
A populist ferment is surging across Islam, from Yugoslavia and Morocco on the West to Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines on the East. Fragmented in form, cohesive in ideology, this Islamic reassertion has been reflected in the 1978-79 Iranian revolution, the occupation of the Great Mosque in Mecca in Saudi Arabia in November 1979, the four-year war in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, the assassination of President Anwar el-Sadat in Egypt in October 1981, and violent resistance in Lebanon through 1983 and 1984.
The Iran-Iraq war is now in its fourth year. For those of us in the West, the conflict has had a quality of remoteness for much of its course, an impression brought about in part by the nature of the struggle itself. We feel revulsion at a war that has sent teenagers by the thousands to their deaths against entrenched gun positions, at the use of poison gas which we had hoped the conscience of mankind had abolished as a method of warfare. We have been unable to comprehend fully the ideologies and motivations driving the leaders of these two nations to pursue a conflict that has led to such carnage and cynical disregard for human life. It has been easy-indeed a relief-to put this war out of mind. And besides, we ask, what can anybody do to bring it to an end?
François Mitterrand, halfway through his term of office, is pursuing a French foreign policy that is more than a footnote to the career of Charles de Gaulle. Making full use of the presidential authority set up by de Gaulle, Mitterrand has been neither inspired nor bound by the Gaullist conception of France's place in the world. Fifteen years after leaving office, de Gaulle still casts a long shadow over France, and even more over perceptions of France. But Mitterrand's responses to the international problems France faces in the 1980s are very different from those of de Gaulle in the 1960s. They reflect a very different idea of what France is in the world and what it can claim to be.
In this fortieth anniversary year of the international monetary conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, there have been numerous but vague calls for a new Bretton Woods conference to improve our international monetary system which, if not actually ailing, at least leaves many participants uneasy and discomfited. Much of the discomfort relates to the large and burdensome external debt that has accumulated around the world, but much also goes beyond debt to the underlying monetary arrangements among countries.