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States are sly creatures, making friends and foes to suit their goals, which are what they have always been-wealth and power. Civilizations do not control states, states control civilizations.
To the newly advancing Asian world, the West's huffing and puffing about democracy sounds like the swan song of a sinking civilization.
The 20th century is over, and liberalism is again on the march. Hope makes more sense than fin de siecle angst.
Confucian and Western civilizations are less yin and yang than ingredients to be combined.
The West's challenge after the Cold War is to build a new NATO to secure the alliance's unstable eastern and southern flanks. An expanded alliance not only betters the odds for East-Central Europe's political and economic reform. It also reduces the dangers of German-Russian rivalry, instability spilling west and rampaging nationalism. The first step is a new transatlantic bargain, one that balances changed U.S. and European interests, and recognizes that the concerns of Europe's periphery are central to the continent as a whole.
NATO cannot move into Eastern Europe. It would greatly annoy the Russians, have little credibility, create splits within the alliance and require much in blood and treasure. But leaving aside the specific problems, beneath all these problems to move NATO east, lies a relic of Cold War thinking-the concept of the political West. The West as a strategic entity was a product of the Cold War. The West has been and will remain a culture and a civilization. But the political unity of the past forty years will give way to differences of interests and strategies as each of the great powers of Europe and America searches for its own security.
Cracks in Japan's political edifice have excited hopes in the United States that reforms are on the way. What American's fail to grasp is that the Japanese politicians do not count for much. In the absence of a strong civil society, and protected by the press, Tokyo's government ministries call the shots. Washington should press Japan to write a new constitution strengthening politicians vis-a-vis the bureaucracy. Until Japan reshapes its political system, the split in the Liberal Democratic Party will remain no more than fractures in a facade.
The Salinas regime has ardently pursued the North American Free Trade Agreement as a silver bullet to kill myriad political and economic problems. But NAFTA as it stands would exacerbate many of Mexico's enduring disparities and injustices. Short term adjustment costs and the possibility of backsliding on political reform have largely been overlooked. NAFTA must be designed to contribute to political reform. Otherwise, postponing the accord would not weaken Mexico-only Salinas.
Oil-exporting nations are seeking the capital, technology and management skills of the very international oil companies they shut the door on in the 1970's. Driving the changed relationship is broadened competition for market share needed investments that meet the double criteria of economic and environmental competitiveness. Now flat, oil demand could increase by 20 percent in the next decade, pushed by Asia's economic growth. Evening with the opening of Russia, most increased production can be expected from the Middle East, maintaining that troubled region's strategic importance.
The battle for Egypt is being played out between the pro-Western regime of Hosni Mubarak and Islamic militants who want to establish a fundamentalist government. The Islamicists are not strong enough now to seize power, but they could cripple Mubarak's ability to deal with economic and political challenges. If Egypt becomes unstable, by insurrections of militants or the military, U.S. aid to Egypt-nearly $35 billion since 1975-may be in danger of being swept away.
After 40 years of division, the two former halves of Germany are discovering the psychological stresses of unity. The collapse of the German Democratic Republic released East Germans from public control and authoritarian intimidation. But with freedom, they are having to learn to make choices and to live with risk and uncertainty. West Germans are resentful at the cost of reunification and arrogant about the sad state of their Eastlander brethren. Both halves of Germany will have to deal with their separate and joint pasts. They should expect moral and psychological unity to take longer than the material recuperation of the east.
South Africa's negotiating parties continue to stave off violent extremists on both the right and left. More than a tussle over constitutional mechanics, the current negotiations are an effort to construct a political center that will hold. But agreeing on a spring election well before establishing the rules of the game has transformed the talks into a power struggle, and the eight-month election campaign into a gauntlet of uncertainty.
George P. Shultz rescued the Reagan administration from its dogmatism. By using America's growing strength, yet insisting on negotiations, Shultz created a commandingly favorable position for the United States at the dusk of the Cold War.