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In this special Comments section, the U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1989 to 1992 has written a memoir drawn from his personal diaries that provides a gripping firsthand account of Yugoslavia's slide into civil war. The author evaluates the breakup of Yugoslavia as a classic example of nationalism from the top down -- a manipulated, brutal nationalism in a region where peace has historically prevailed and ethnically mixed marriages comprise a quarter of the population. In one of several vivid portraits of politicians, Zimmermann shows how Serb leader Slobodan Milošević, who wanted only "a unity that Serbia could dominate," became the main wrecker of Yugoslavia.
Nuclear weapons, as great enhancers of national power, are attractive to U.S. allies, orphan states left outside the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and hostile rogue states. The collapse of the Soviet Union has brought into the open the growing desire for nuclear status, which the United States will have to discourage through continuing diplomacy and security commitments. Thwarting rogue states like Iraq and North Korea may eventually require preventive war, though it might take a nuclear exchange for Washington to reach that conclusion.
The Congress of Vienna, the Treaty of Versailles, and the NATO-based containment strategy were three pivotal decisions in European diplomacy. Now there is a fourth opportunity to construct a lasting European peace through institutions, new and old. Foremost, NATO must expand, discussing openly which new countries to admit. The Partnership for Peace and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should coordinate human rights and civilian control of armies. Respect for human rights must extend to Russia, which is why the Chechen campaign has been so disturbing. To turn away from the challenge of this moment and freeze NATO would exact a higher price later.
Advocates of "Europe" -- a united, federal European state -- tout their project as at once a noble political ideal and a pragmatic economic strategy. Both arguments are wrong. The European Union's bureaucrats will stifle the continent's economy, and its politicos will breed corruption and nationalist resentment. Letting the EU handle security matters would be equally disastrous, as the fiasco in Bosnia demonstrates. Despite all this, the partisans of "Europe" warn the skeptical that the train is pulling out of the station. Those who care about Europe will let it go.
The West often ascribes mystery and chaos to political and economic power in Japan. Yet Japanese power is actually a carefully structured hierarchy, and the capstone is neither big business nor the Ministry of International Trade and Industry but the little-understood and low-profile Ministry of Finance. The MOF controls Japan's equivalents of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It is the prime mover behind Japan's savings rate, distribution of overseas aid, and regulation of monopolies. However obscure, it may well be the most powerful bureaucracy in the world.
The Chechnya misadventure unmasked what Russia's armed forces have known for awhile: the heir to the once-vaunted Soviet military is in shambles. Years of cutbacks in Russia's military budgets, worsened by rapid inflation, have crippled morale, the development of new weapons, maintenance, and training. At the upper echelons, there is now an exodus of talented and experienced officers; in the lower ranks, desertion and draft evasion are widespread. Nevertheless, the Russian military has largely remained above politics and helped to stabilize the nation amid reform. The United States would do well to press for an honest and open military-to-military relationship with Russia. One day, a grave nuclear threat may require it.
To the incredulity of the world, placid, prosperous Canada stands yet again at the brink of constitutional collapse. To resolve this crisis once and for all, Canada must decide what it stands for. Traditionally, the country distinguished itself from its American neighbor by its kinder, gentler social welfare programs, now dismal failures, and by its bilingual national character, now threatened by Quebec's new separatist government. Biculturalism should be Canada's raison d'être. If Quebec secedes, English Canada should consider joining the United States. Either way, Canada will become a more perfect union.
Faced with demands for support from rebellious Spanish colonies in South America following the Napoleonic wars, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams enunciated a principle of American foreign policy that is still relevant today: the best way for a larger country to help smaller ones is by the power of example. To go further, Adams warned, would be "to involve America beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue." Good advice, then as now.
Reviews & Responses
In a penetrating new book, Ernest Gellner examines an old Enlightenment idea that could be the key to the success of democratic reform in Eastern Europe.
In The Vandals' Crown, Gregory Millman recounts the lucrative tug of war between the world's currency traders and central bankers. It all began because Milton Friedman wanted to make a bet.