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As America's involvement in the world deepens, its leaders are responding to new problems with old fears. Outmoded strategies will allow today's core problem - civil wars - to overwhelm us.
In Central Europe the greatest threat to democracy comes not from the nationalists but from the better-organized former communist parties. Encouraging Western-style conservative parties would provide economic and political competition.
Developing countries seeking economic vitality should court venture capitalists, the gutsy investors bent on creating Silicon Valleys from economic deserts.
In this 1994 article, Richard Betts argues that when the United States intervenes in other countries' domestic wars, it must take sides among groups to ensure someone is in charge at the end of the day. Interventions that aim to be evenhanded prevent the very peace they seek to create.
The United Nations and the United States continue to intervene in wars without forthrightly taking sides. Impartiality may sound sensible enough, but it has hamstrung would-be peacekeepers and worsened conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, and, to some degree, Haiti. War is about who rules. If military intervention occurs, outsiders should ensure someone is in charge at the end of the day. Interventions that avoid the root issue and aim to be evenhanded become compromises that kill. They prevent the very peace they seek to create.
President Clinton has finally done the right thing in Haiti. Expanding democracy abroad squarely fits America's Wilsonian tradition. Historically, this approach has provided a proven alternative to communism and fascism, a healthy outlet for nationalism, and a sturdy pillar of America's Cold War success. A democratic Latin America holds the best prospect for good relations with the United States.
Americans will readily endorse the use of force in foreign conflicts, if the conflicts impinge on domestic priorities such as oil prices, drug smuggling, and illegal immigration. In other cases, their definitions of "vital interests" vary widely. The last three engagements of U.S. troops - the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, and Haiti - underscore a common denominator: without a president who leads the nation by clearly articulating the principles at stake and the nature of the mission, the public is chary of taking action. Given President Clinton's approach, forbearance for a sustained Haitian intervention may not last long.
Pundits point to the awesome growth of East Asia's economies and fret that the West cannot compete. But there is nothing miraculous about the successes of Asia's "tigers." Their rise was fueled by mobilizing resources - increasing inputs of machinery, infrastructure, and education - just like that of the now-derided Soviet economy. Indeed, Singapore's boom is the virtual economic twin of Stalin's U.S.S.R. The growth rates of the newly industrialized countries of East Asia will also slow down. The lesson here for Western policymakers is that sustained growth requires efficiency gains, which come from making painful choices.
The existence of a Pacific community is an article of faith for Washington, but the Pacific nations have only embryonic regional institutions, and there are daunting security challenges in Korea and between Japan and China. Even worse, American military and economic power in the region is waning. Yet the economic opportunities here are too great for the Clinton administration to pass up. The key to continued U.S. engagement in the Pacific should be the private sector.
Kim Jong Il is bound to fall. The reclusive son of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's late "Great Leader," is doomed to carry on the failed policies that form his meager inheritance. Without reform, however, his rickety Stalinist regime will likely succumb to either a military putsch or a violent collapse. Kim may still be tempted to use the North's nuclear program to extort concessions from the West. Washington and its East Asian allies must remain steadfast. A nuclear-armed Kim is a strategic nightmare.
Taiwan's campaign to return to the United Nations merits serious attention. China is hurting its own interests by failing to understand the factors--most important, the democratization of Taiwan--that drove Taipei to seek membership. Taiwan knows that the road to the United Nations ultimately goes through Beijing, and China can promote the goal of eventual reunification if it endorses Taiwan's bid. Given that Taipei has made its U.N. participation negotiable, Beijing should recognize the opening that is being presented.
It is premature to proclaim the end of the militant pan-Islamic movement. Two men - Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi of Sudan and Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon - are adapting to modern challenges in ways that reveal much about the power and appeal of Islamic movements in the Arab states. Given the enormous attraction Islam still holds for young Muslims and the lack of any convincing homegrown alternative, the Islamic era may just be dawning.
Reviews & Responses
Finally we have a book on espionage with the flavor and texture of the truth. Peter Grose brings us a biography of Allen Dulles, founder of the modern CIA.
Mao Zedong's personal physician has written a fascinating exposé about his long and close relationship with the Great Leader. From the bedroom to the politburo, the personal details of Mao's imperial life are laid bare.