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Britain and Germany are beginning to have the sinking feeling that their once-promising zeitgeists-innovative Thatcherism and harmonious unification-have lost faith, energy and momentum. Revelations of Stasi sympathizers in Germany and star-crossed royalty in England are not helping.
The lessons of the Chernobyl disaster must go beyond the usual technical analyses and focus on the fundamental cause of the accident: that the Soviet nuclear energy program was permeated by an atmosphere of corruption and patronage. Only a scientific culture of openness and professionalism can avert future nuclear disasters.
The tumult of the post-Cold War world has disoriented not only politicians, but journalists as well. Reporters must learn anew the geography, history and political philosophy of emerging nations and coalitions.
The United Nations is only an instrument of sovereign states occasionally useful in specific crises. When used hastily or inappropriately, it risks internationalizing and prolonging local conflicts.
World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition. These divisions are deep and increasing in importance. From Yugoslavia to the Middle East to Central Asia, the fault lines of civilizations are the battle lines of the future. In this emerging era of cultural conflict the United States must forge alliances with similar cultures and spread its values wherever possible. With alien civilizations the West must be accommodating if possible, but confrontational if necessary. In the final analysis, however, all civilizations will have to learn to tolerate each other.
Subscribe to Foreign Affairs for $32—and receive The Clash of Civilizations?: The Debate absolutely free. This digital reprint includes Huntington's seminal article plus commentary and criticism that it inspired.
Conventional wisdom argues that Ukraine should be forced to give up its nuclear weapons to ensure peace and stability in Europe. This is quite wrong. As soon as Ukraine declared its independence, Washington should have encouraged Kiev to fashion its own secure nuclear deterrent. The dangers of Russian-Ukrainian rivalry bode poorly for peace. If Ukraine is forced to maintain a large conventional army to deter potential Russian expansion, the danger of war is much greater than if it maintains a nuclear capability. U.S. policy should recognize that Ukraine, come what may, will keep its nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons are not always destabilizing, but for Ukraine to retain its vast arsenal of icbms would be highly dangerous. The circumstances that made the nuclear arms race stable during the Cold War are all absent in the Russian-Ukranian relationship. The nuclear balance between Russia and Ukraine will never be stable and, even if possible, the process of developing a Ukrainian nuclear deterrent is fraught with conflicts over custody, control and targeting. Accidents happen. In the uncertain environment of the former Soviet Union, allowing Ukraine to keep nuclear weapons is not worth the cost.
Slobodan Milosevic catapulted from the ranks of communist functionaries to become the most popular Serbian leader of the century by embracing and promoting nationalism through dramatic mass demonstrations and simplistic propaganda. Adept in the use of patronage and organization-building, he supplanted his mentor as president of Serbia, won the allegiance of the Yugoslav army and manipulated intellectuals and the masses with a "politics of fear." Faced with slipping popularity because of economic sanctions and afraid of Western military intervention, Milosevic is now ready for compromises, but the forces he created may be uncontrollable.
War in the Balkans stems not from mysterious and unresolvable ancient hatreds but from forces and events of recent times-nineteenth-century romanticism, the emergence of nation states and the breakup of empires. The idea of an ethnic nation, based on political imagination rather than the European reality of racial intermixture, is a permanent provocation to war. Yugoslavia's war is about political values, specifically separatism versus secular, nonethnic democracy. Without nato guarantees against forcible border changes and a Western willingness to intervene, ethnic conflict will dominate the course of events in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for years to come.
Serbian efforts to force Bosnian Muslims from cities and villages throughout the Balkans have only recently lodged ethnic cleansing in the public mind. But in the annals of history such atrocities are far from new. From ancient Assyria to modern Serbia, campaigns to homogenize populations within inviolate borders have been carried out variously in the name of God, nation or ideology. Yet ethnic cleansing remains difficult to define. Less understood is the compulsion for national "purity" at such horrific costs. The most likely outcome of the Balkans war is a patchwork of ethnically distinct regions, with few minority populations. Perhaps then the violence will end.
Gross human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia-rape, torture, summary execution and mass internment-cannot go uncensured by the international community. A war crimes tribunal is a moral imperative and would go far toward deterring future criminals and defusing ethnic tensions in the Balkans. Although prosecution will be difficult, the alternative-doing nothing-is unacceptable. To abandon the process now, after the United Nations has already called for a tribunal, would make a mockery of international law. The moral legacy of the Nuremberg trials is at stake.
Fueled by dramatic economic growth, the nations of East and Southeast Asia are engaged in an arms race that shows every sign of accelerating. These countries are importing not only complex weapon systems but, more important, the technology with which to manufacture them. Since longstanding territorial and border disputes remain (most notably in the South China Sea) and the twin threats of China and Japan loom large, the potential for conflict is great. Without arms control and regional security measures, the Pacific Rim could one day be the site of a major conflagration.
If nation states continue to make and use plutonium, they risk nuclear weapons proliferation, environmental devastation and lost lives. Through the International Atomic Energy Agency or a new institution, a regime should be set up to manage storage, reduction and disposal of this costly carcinogen. Pressure to join the regime could come from tightening the purse-strings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But a new regime would also require precedent-setting behavior and support from the United States and Russia.
America's leaders still cling to a superpower role. President Clinton himself has paid at least rhetorical support to spearheading a democratic world order. But his administration's proposed defense budget would strip the nation of the power needed to carry out those ambitions. A mismatch of financial means and political ends looms on the nation's horizon. The way to close the gap is not to build up defense, but to build down U.S. foreign policy goals.
Reviews & Responses
President Clinton is getting jostled by the grousing of U.S. trading partners and critics of his economic policy. Yet his trade policy assumes-correctly-that the costs of inaction are too high. A trio of books details the stakes.
In Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara, the former secretary of defense emerges as a man who, despite decades of public service, is unable to out the damned spot of Vietnam.