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The recession threatens to poison US foreign relations. The Bush administration failed to capitalize on the momentum of the Gulf War and Cold War victories, and proved "far more adept at cleaning up the debris of an old world than building the framework of the new". "Unless the nation embarks upon a comprehensive program of domestic renewal, the United States within a few years could become so deeply mired in its own troubles that its politics will turn even more embittered, xenophobic and inward. The specter of neo-isolationism that raised its head in late 1991 will then be but a precursor of worse to come, as reluctance to act as a leader turns into outright refusal, and international politics becomes a bare-knuckled brawl".
Any 'new world order' will be confused and untidy, and the US role in it may not be as central as Americans and their allies have accustomed themselves to expect. There is a tension between the desire to dampen disorder and the reluctance to accept the risks of intervention. Instead of regarding the end of of the Cold War as the start of a new era, it might be more fruitful to see it as the continuation of the post-WW2 process of decolonization, with the USSR having been the last of the old imperial orders to collapse. Those countries formerly oriented in its direction are now adrift, and the West must prove itself "strong enough to provide the necessary sense of direction and political purpose" to encourage a re-orientation towards the West.
With the end of the Cold War, and of the concerns it involved, it is natural that US attention should turn to the solution of domestic and economic problems. It is exaggeration to read such a shift as "some form of isolationism".
The manner in which President Bush terminated US military action against Iraq, and the unsatisfactoriness of the residual situation in the Gulf region with Saddam Hussein still in place, served to erode that sense of purpose and self-confidence with which Americans were persuaded to embark on that action. "He left them in confusion over exactly what they had been fighting for in the Persian Gulf, hence over what America's role should be in the post-Cold War world".
Overview of events in the Middle East during 1991, and how the Gulf war outcome, along with the collapse of the USSR, affected the interests of countries in the region. Asserts that US foreign policy could have been more vigorous in restructuring the Middle East order: "it sought more to stabilize the old order than to remake the Middle East in its own preferred image".
Assesses (1) progress in the evolution of a European security identity, with particular reference to the EC's handling of the Yugoslav crisis (2) how US foreign policy should adjust itself thereto. "The starting point for American policy should be an end to ambivalence over the Europeans building some defense co-operation of their own", and the USA should recognize that "NATO will not continue to serve as the cornerstone for an American political role in Europe".
US consciousness of the APR focuses mainly on bilateral trade imbalances. "Less understood... is how substantially the balance of economic power within the Asian-Pacific region itself has shifted away from the United States and how that inevitably changes the distribution of political influence in the area".
Assesses the impact of the Soviet collapse on the survivability of the Castro regime. Argues there should be no change in US policy towards Cuba. Loosening economic pressure would lessen incentive to reform, while increasing it would risk turning a "Cuban problem into a US problem".
The end of the Cold War and of apartheid have "undermined the logic that once drove America's alliances of expediency on the continent, which were so inimical to expanding civil liberties in Africa". The West should develop a selective foreign policy, favouring states showing pro-market and pro-democracy traits, and showing "equal-opportunity hostility" to remaining despots.