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The mistakes of the U.S. intervention in Somalia should not obscure its successes: a humanitarian tragedy was averted, and the political landscape was improved.
Expanding NATO east is unwise. It will not promote democracy or capitalism, and it is premature to assume Russian belligerence.
Foreign policy mandarins are touting early intervention, or "preventive diplomacy," in regional crises as a farsighted strategy. But its risks and costs are understated.
Sudan is a nation divided: its population in the north, where the majority resides, is culturally Arab, while the south shares the civilization of black Africa. Faced with this diversity, the government has embarked on a course of Islamization to unify Sudan. Although popular dissatisfaction with the Islamic state runs deep, Hassan al-Turabi, the charismatic Islamic leader, and his followers are so well entrenched that it may be impossible to get them out, even with elections.
The Oslo accord has failed. Battered by a wave of fundamentalist terrorism, Israelis are ready to elect a hard-line Likud government, while many frustrated Palestinians are spurning the PLO in favor of the Islamic extremists of Hamas. Locked in a political embrace, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin are dragging each other down. The process may stagger on, but it will never yield peace.
Israel and Egypt's cold peace has turned arctic. Jerusalem and Cairo are clashing over nuclear disarmament, other Arab states' ties to Israel, the stability of the Mubarak regime, and the peace process. The strains stem from Israel's and Egypt's competing visions of a new Middle East, which they both hope to lead. With U.S.-Egyptian relations also on the rocks, these tensions threaten the entire Middle East peace process.
The idea that democracies never fight wars against each other has become an axiom. While mature, stable democracies are safer, states usually go through a dangerous transition to democracy. Historical evidence from the last 200 years shows that in this phase, countries become more war-prone, not less, and they do fight wars with democratic states. This raises questions about the U.S. policy of promoting peace by promoting democratization. Pushing Russia and China toward democracy may actually bring war in the short term.
The Clinton administration erred grievously in threatening intervention in the northern Balkans (Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia) and then quailing when it was needed. But in the southern Balkans (Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Turkey), U.S. diplomacy has been successful, particularly compared with the clownish efforts of European nations. Capable U.S. envoys have worked hard to reverse the growing polarization of Greece and Turkey. Moreover, U.S. support has helped reinforce the fragile geographic firewall, Macedonia, thus preventing a wider regional war.
The Cold War culture of military restraint has given way to increasing atrocities. By remaining a passive witness in the former Yugoslavia, Central Asia, and Chechnya, the United States damages its moral economy. Yet none of these conflicts sufficiently threatens U.S. interests to rouse the nation to arms. The United States should therefore return to the calculating siege craft common before Napoleon, which stressed minimal casualties, partial results, and patience. Every war need not be a heroic national crusade.
Since its creation, the IMF has seen its global mission overcome by floating exchange rates and immense private capital markets. Consequently, it has focused more on the developing world, become more politicized, and wandered into riskier endeavors such as Mexico's bailout. Nevertheless, the IMF can and should be reformed to become a global rating agency, a bankruptcy judge for nations, and an international catalyst for aid and financial packages.
The new democracies of Latin America and Eastern Europe are grappling with their dictatorial pasts -- deciding whether to purge the old regimes' officials, hold truth commissions, open secret police files, or try the gunmen and leaders of tyranny. But the two regions face different threats. The Latin American democracies are too weak to keep the juntas from returning, while in Eastern Europe, the state is too strong, prone to authoritarian abuses reminiscent of the bad old days.
Reviews & Responses
In taking the war upon himself, Robert S. McNamara forgets that containment abroad and anticommunism at home virtually ensured the Vietnam tragedy.
In his popular history of U.S. foreign policy, David Fromkin treats American isolationism between the two world wars as the norm, despite evidence to the contrary.