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A new doctrine for American foreign policy is gradually emerging from the tumult of the first post-Cold War years. Like the doctrine of containment that opened the crusade against communism, the new strategy of interventionism is inchoate in its first expressions, ill thought out in its implications and its chosen instruments. Neither the United Nations nor the United States has the necessary will or resources to bring peace in the dozens of civil wars that now mar the global landscape from Bosnia to Somalia, Liberia to Cambodia. Interventions driven even by moral or humanitarian impulses may actually prolong the civil strife they seek to resolve.
American foreign policy is in danger of responding to a capricious sequence of events, rather than to defined guideposts and a clear sense of priorities. In view at the start of a new administration is a vast array of worthy objectives, as if all could be pursued simultaneously and successfully. In fact, many goals are in conflict and all require difficult trade-offs. Support for democracy and for human rights are unsteady guides to policy; economic pressures or attempts to stifle the flow of armaments conflict with other interests. America's limited political capital must be husbanded, to be expended only when the society's fundamental interests are at stake.
Liberated from the Cold War, European nationalism ran rampant in 1992. The absence of a compelling strategic interest in war-torn Yugoslavia precluded foreign intervention, and "an absurd replay of yesteryear's battles" found newly unified Germany on the side of the former Hapsburg states, with Britain, France and the United States tacitly backing Serbia. To attract the capital for east German reconstruction, Germany chose to raise its interest rates, scuttling the powerless European Monetary System. A rise in fascist street-fighting and widespread hypernationaliism inspired mass demonstrations of German tolerance and liberalism.
In 1992 economic conditions declined dramatically in Russia, leading to a rise of conservative political forces and increased expressions of anti-Americanism. In the new year, Russia faces major challenges: preventing hyperinflation, continuing privatization and obtaining a better price for oil exports. It must also deal with mounting social problems runaway crime, faltering health services and large-scale unemployment. Dangerous ethnic and religious conflicts continue. Meanwhile, in eastern Europe, there are positive economic and political trends among all the problems in Poland, Hungary and the Czech republic. The region remains a priority for renewed and effective U.S. attention.
The Clinton administration inherits strained bilateral relations with the leading powers of Asia and no coherent policy for the Asia/Pacific region as a whole. Trade, security and diplomatic style are the overarching challenges--and on all three counts prominent Asians are worried. They fear a president bent on building trade walls, bringing home American troops and lecturing on human rights. Yet respect for the United States remains instinctive throughout the region, particularly given convincing progress in rejuvenating the American economy. Asia's quest for economic growth and more democratic government awaits leadership from Washington.
Latin American countries have taken giant strides toward institutionalizing democracy, market economics and hemispheric community. However, widespread dissatisfaction with the unequal benefits of economic reform and disillusionment with democratic institutions persist. Political support for reform remains tentative and is undermined in some countries by growing poverty, corruption, drug trafficking and powerful militaries. Starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement, Clinton should move forward on a selective basis. Much is at stake for the United States major markets for exports, relief from excess immigration, and better control of drug shipments and environmental devastation.
The momentum for change that swept across Africa only two years ago has slowed to a crawl as incumbent leaders thwart elections, Western-driven economic reforms squeeze hard-pressed populations, and political instability destroys what remains of a viable investment climate. Despite the attention given Somalia, the United States has steadily retreated from the sub-Sahara. To avoid neglect that leads to disaster, a money-shy U.S. policy should place greater emphasis on the grass-roots groups of Africa's own emerging civil society.
"The drama of military intervention and the media's fixation on looters and 'warlords' now threaten to obscure the fact that, prior to late 1992, the international response to Somalia's long agony was indeed abject failure." Bungled, halfhearted efforts by U.N. diplomats, relief agencies and Security Council members contributed to the very circumstances of anarchy and violence that prompted the invasion by 21,000 U.S. Marines of the famine- and war-riven nation. International success in Somalia now depends on fashioning a more forceful U.N. presence and a lasting peace.
The Middle East that awaits the Clinton administration is a locus of terrorism, drugs, refugees, armaments and oil. Iran, newly pragmatic on domestic and economic issues, is not inclined toward cooperation with either its neighbors or the wider world. Iraq's Saddam Hussein wasted no time in testing the resolve of the incoming American president. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia find an increasingly educated middle class seeking a greater voice in the political process. Turkey, after half a century of avoiding outside entanglements, is a country at risk. The former Soviet republics of Central Asia are newly relevant to American policy, with Muslim fundamentalism on the rise and the nuclear arsenal of Kazakhstan still intact.
The American presidential campaign brought a hiatus in efforts to nudge Arabs and Israelis into the process of making peace. Recent months of direct but dilatory talks confirm that the rival parties in the Middle East are still incapable of moving forward without active prodding from the United States. The Clinton diplomatic team nonetheless faces more promising opportunities for Arab-Israeli understanding than previous American administrations. Through the process that began in Madrid in 1991, long-standing rigidities are being relaxed on all sides, and the global and regional environments make peace through compromise seem more attractive than continued enmity.
1992 was a year of confusion and drift in the management of the international economy. The numbers for growth, income and employment were bad and public perception turned sour. Uncertain of its standing in the world, the United States provided little leadership in trade or finance. Europe and Japan, preoccupied with their own economic and political problems, were unable to fill the gap. By the fall, a paradox was plain to see: the United States conducted a domestically oriented presidential campaign while evidence mounted that only the United States was in a position to lead internationally for the next decade or longer. As 1993 started there was hope for better days based on U.S. economic recovery and President Clinton's instincts to be an internationalist and a free trader.
The most protracted period of slow economic growth since World War II has contributed to dangerous political and social unrest around the globe. The growth rate of the industrial countries has declined from 4.4 percent in 1988 to 1.7 percent in 1992. In the same four years, the United States averaged about 1/2 percent growth a year. Meanwhile the ex-communist economies lost more than one-third of total output. Slow growth has undermined political leaders and incited nationalism and protectionism. It also has crimped efforts to deal with economic development, environmental management and migration. Cures start at home in forceful U.S. measures to lower the deficit, increase investment and spur technological innovation.
The post-1945 free-trade regime is giving way to an emerging "market access" regime that is more flexible about border barriers, but more demanding about "fair competition" policies and about access for investment. In this new commercial environment, free trade and protectionism are proving to be a false dichotomy. As corporations globalize and create elaborate commercial partnerships, governments have to create a new global framework and tools for managing world commerce. In the market access regime, there will be roles for expanded industry codes, bilateral, minilateral and regional bargaining all coordinated by a reformed General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The order of the day will be multilateralism from the bottom up.
Forty-five years after the Marshall Plan, America's foreign aid program is in shambles. The Clinton administration has the opportunity to make a new beginning with a clearly defined program to promote environmentally sound economic growth--for the benefit of the poorer populations of the world and the United States and other industrialized nations as well. Trade, technology and investment policies must be molded into an initiative that recognizes the limits to the carrying capacity of the globe.