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Clinton and his team have reversed the legacy of American diplomacy. Unlike their cannier predecessors, they allow rhetoric to drive policy--not vice versa.
History has not ended, only progressivism--belief in a single path to one goal. The West must now learn to respect the environment and values of other civilizations.
The U.S. policy of "certifying" whether drug-trade nations are aiding interdiction efforts does little. Reducing domestic demand is better than attacking foreign supply.
The difference between the factions in Bosnia is not morality, as the Bosnian Muslims and Western press insist, but power and opportunity. All have the same goal: to avoid living as a minority. All have committed crimes against other ethnic groups. Despite its claims of neutrality and preaching against military solutions, the United States has favored the Bosnian Muslims, keeping silent as they launched offensives from U.N.-guarded safe areas. Since air strikes cannot resolve the conflict, the United States must discourage violence by all sides and let Russia--the one country Serbs trust--take the lead in negotiations.
When the founders forged the United Nations 50 years ago, they envisioned nothing less than a messianic transformation of politics and diplomacy. But they neglected to take human nature and history into account. The concept of collective security that they bet on to keep order was dead a few years later--though it has taken the humiliations of Bosnia to demonstrate this definitively. What's a world organization to do in the confused twilight of the nation-state? Traditional diplomats have proved they are better at settling conflicts, but the dream of global community is still alive in the human imagination.
People need an international system for security of many kinds. But the United Nations today is precariously funded, stretched thin by an unprecedented number of peacekeeping missions, and generally underequipped to deal with the rising demand for its services. Reform is necessary for the middle-aged organization. States touchy about sovereignty and interest groups pushing their agendas must sink their differences and work out a plan to revitalize the world body. They might consider giving it an independent source of income and some standing troops for enforcement power.
Egyptians are nostalgic for their bourgeois past, still wanting to believe that their country is not just a state but an idea and a historical movement. But in their odyssey through liberalism, pan-Arabism, nationalism, and Islamicism, their dreams of greatness have been continually disappointed. Today President Mubarak leads a country with an exploding population, a fraying infrastructure, and a violent fundamentalist fringe. The sorrows of Egypt lie not in any one adversity but in the decline under the military regime of a once vibrant civic life. The state is all that remains.
This article appears in the Foreign Affairs/CFR eBook, The New Arab Revolt.
Competitiveness debates have contrasted countries that have industrial policies, like Japan, with more laissez-faire countries like the United States. But the pivotal difference is the level of a people's trust. High-trust societies are interlaced with voluntary organizations--Rotary clubs, Bible study groups, private schools--and thus have "social capital," which makes for the growth of large corporations in highly technical fields. Low-trust societies--France, Italy, China--tend toward small, family-owned businesses in basic goods. Social capital is not necessary for growth, but its absence tempts governments to intervene in the economy and imperil competitiveness.
The history of intelligence since World War I shows no dividends resembling the miracles of spy-thriller fiction. The benefits gained by fielding a worldwide team of secret agents are not worth the exorbitant cost. Spies sometimes provide useful information on weapons development and other long-term threats; usually their information is outdated or irrelevant. The CIA should stick to its strengths: analysis for policymakers and high-tech surveillance. Cloak-and-dagger foreign policy tempts presidents into shirking the hard work of diplomacy and politics. The practice has blackened America's reputation and subverted its democracy.
Ichiro Ozawa, a former power broker in the Liberal Democratic Party, has become a seminal figure of Japan's reform movement. A leader of the up-and-coming New Frontier Party, in 1993 he wrote an influential bestseller, Blueprint for a New Japan, that helped define the national debates over democratic reform, social issues, and foreign policy. He views himself as Meiji-type leader, trying to awaken Japan to the changes in the outside world. But many of the Japanese are wary of the savvy backroom dealmaker. In any case, his views are helping chart Japan's diplomatic course: a more engaged global role coupled with a resilient U.S. partnership.
China is trying to build the largest, most expensive, and perhaps most hazardous hydroelectric dam ever. On a fabled stretch of the Yangtze River, the government is planning to erect a 1.2-mile-long dam that will create a 385-mile-long reservoir of over 10 trillion gallons of water. Even if the dam is constructed safely, the devastation will be staggering: 1.4 million people resettled, 113,00 acres of fertile river valley lost, several rare species eliminated, and some 200 ancient tombs submerged. If it were to fail, millions of city dwellers downstream would be engulfed in a tidal wave. Chinese leaders have touted the flood control and electricity production and have censored and jailed those who dared criticize.
Reviews & Responses
Kenneth Lieberthal's encyclopedic survey of the People's Republic bets the Communist Party can keep the lid on the country's political discontent, but a billion increasingly affluent Chinese may be getting other ideas.
The memoirs of Moscow's ambassador to the United States from Kennedy to Reagan reveal little about U.S. presidents but much about the ossified and ill-informed Soviet foreign policy apparatus. Anatoly Dobrynin's lament for Gorbachev's rule and the end of the U.S.S.R. advances a disquieting stab-in-the-back theory.