America and the World 1990

America and the World 1990
70, 1


Michael Mandelbaum

Appraises (1) the admirable wisdom of detached watchfulness in reacting to the communist collapse, the end of the Cold War and the onset of German unification (2) the skilfull management of the coalition against Iraq for the liberation of Kuwait (3) the predominantly economic character of US foreign policy interests for the future

Charles Krauthammer

Thinking about post-Cold War US foreign policy has been led astray by three conventionally-accepted but mistaken assumptions about the character of the post-Cold War environment (1) that the world is now multipolar, whereas it is in fact unipolar, with the USA the sole superpower, at least for present policy purposes (2) that the US domestic consensus favours internationalism rather than isolationism (3) that in consequence of the Soviet collapse, the threat of war has substantially diminished.

William Pfaff

"Today there is not, as some argue, a single superpower, the United States; there are none". National power rests on a triad of (1) military power (2) economic and technological competitiveness (3) social cohesion and public consensus on national goals. Though pre-eminent in the first, the USA has faltered on the other two, with the result that "the world is moving towards a restored pluralism of power, a multipolar geopolitics". Concludes with speculation on three variables likely to shape the multipolar world (1) the future of the disintegrating USSR (2) relations within the EC, particularly as affected by German unification (3) how far the USA will be able to retrieve its position in respect of the second and third legs of the triad.

Richard Pipes

"Although the most visible manifestations of the Soviet crisis are economic, the root problem is political", the political authority having assumed responsibilities vastly beyond its competence to discharge. Gorbachev's attempts to reform merely exposed more rotten wood, the further they were pressed, and seriously under-estimated the intensity of the nationalities question. The Union is likely to disintegrate, as the federalists will run out of time, although the Soviet military and the KGB, plus reactionary political elements, retain latent power to resist disintegration or stage a crack-down. The USSR is now "in the throes of accelerating anarchy", and is part of a larger global slide into instability.

Mark A. Uhlig

The Feb 1990 election defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, although a most welcome development for US foreign policy, has (like Noriega's removal in Panama) left a less-than-successful aftertaste. "Having lost its principal foes, both locally and in the once-grand struggle of ideologies, the United States found that it had also lost its principal anchor and guide in dealing with Latin America".

Steven Mufson

Reviews the domestic and international impact of the freeing of Nelson Mandela in Feb 1990, and of de Klerk's legitimation of the ANC.

Bernard K. Gordon

Summarizes regional developments which affected US interests during 1990 (1) imminent closure of US bases in the Philippines, seen as unlikely to harm US regional interests and more likely to damage the Philippine economy (2) the change in US policy on Cambodia, and preparation for normalization of relations with Vietnam (3) changes in Soviet policy towards the APR, to the disadvantage of Vietnam and North Korea (4) the more gradual evolution of China's foreign policy (5) the troubled course of US-Japanese relations.

Order Back Issues

The complete backfile of Foreign Affairs magazine, dating back to 1922, can be ordered in hard copy from William S. Hein & Co., Inc.

716.882.2600 (voice)
800.828.7571 (toll-free)

For bulk orders or questions about the Foreign Affairs printed archives, please email us at