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Terrorism poses important political and diplomatic challenges. It is designed to call attention, through the use of violence, to the causes espoused by terrorists, and to bring about changes in policy favorable to those causes. The United States and its allies--and all other affected nations--must deal with this threat to civilized order with all appropriate measures, ranging from diplomatic to military.
For more than a quarter of a century, at least since the failure of the Suez Canal venture in 1956, Britain has been preoccupied with a sense of its national decline. To some extent the country's demise as a world power was inevitable. Britain was bound to (divest itself of its empire; to have attempted to hang on against all the forces of history would have been a far worse course. Nor could Britain possibly have maintained the almost equal partnership with the United States that it thought it enjoyed when the two countries found themselves fighting side by side in the Second World War.
When President Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met in Geneva last November, the fundamentalist Muslim rulers of Iran devised their own interpretation of the summit conference. "The biggest worry of the two superpowers," Radio Teheran announced, "is neither the star wars' nor the speedy buildup of nuclear weapons, but the revolutionary uprising of the world's Muslims and the oppressed." Iran's President Sayed Ali Khamenei asserted that the two leaders, fearful of revolutionary Islamic ideology and the disturbing effect it has across the Third World, met to figure out "how to confront Islam."
Egypt faces daunting challenges in the period immediately ahead. After several years of relative stability, both economic and political trends have turned ominous, as this largest and most important of Arab states presses against the outer limits of its resources. Negative developments in recent months affecting tourism, oil revenues and remittances from millions of expatriate workers in oil-rich Arab states have aggravated the tenuous situation. For President Hosni Mubarak's government an economic crisis is almost inevitable in the near term, and a major political explosion only slightly less likely.
Apocalyptic visions of the environmental effects of nuclear war have been a part of our popular culture for decades. But apart from appreciating any entertainment value, the cognoscenti of nuclear war have regarded the doomsday predictions as ignorant at best, or dangerous propaganda at worst. The potential global environmental effects of nuclear explosions that were known before 1982--radioactive fallout and the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer--were almost universally accepted in the strategic weapons community as being far short of true doomsday proportions. Indeed, for the combatant nations, such uncertain "secondary" effects were thought to pale before the assured direct effects of blast, heat and local radioactivity. From a scientific standpoint, this skepticism of environmental doomsday effects was probably justified in the sense that a large nuclear war would have been more devastating to the superpowers than any known indirect effects. The discovery of "nuclear winter" has challenged this skepticism because it has been much more compelling scientifically than the earlier predictions of global environmental effects. It has even been referred to as an inadvertent manifestation of Herman Kahn's "doomsday machine."
There was some disappointment, though no great surprise, at the failure of the November 1985 Geneva summit to provide much hope of agreement on nuclear arms. But there was general satisfaction, in Europe as elsewhere, at the understanding reached there for regular consultations on regional conflicts.
Since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, it has failed to consolidate the rule of its Marxist client in Kabul. Although there are occasional reports that the government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) has increased its control, events over the last year confirm an overall lack of progress and the growing strength of the Afghan resistance. The Soviet-sponsored regime has made few political gains and its administrative and combat performance has not greatly improved--a record that led to the abrupt resignation of Afghan leader Babrak Karmal on May 4, 1986. The mujahedeen resistance, on the other hand, is more capable than ever, boosted by increasing firepower, operational and political cooperation and international support. It is slowly but steadily evolving into a powerful military force.
Western reaction to the 27th Soviet Party Congress has been mixed. On the one hand, those who had forecast revelations or a shift of direction on the dramatic scale of the 20th Party Congress--when Khrushchev delivered his secret speech attacking Stalin--were disappointed. On the other hand, those who expected little in the way of new ideas or policy changes to emerge from the congress found what they expected to see.
Virtually all politicians experience something of the tempering effects of public office, but it is rare indeed that an American president reverses his position on a major issue. Yet Ronald Reagan seems to have done just that, picking up the pieces of a human rights policy he tried very hard to dismantle in his first days as president. It was a hesitant and somewhat opportunistic shift, but ironically it may help to strengthen the policy he inherited.
As Corazon Aquino begins the tasks of reuniting a divided Filipino people, rebuilding the institutions destroyed by a discredited dictatorship and reviving a devastated economy, she has chosen to combine the spirit of reconciliation with measures to place her new government in firm control.