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Trade Representative Mickey Kantor's tough talk may have won concessions abroad. But the administration has failed to conquer the greatest threat to open trade: protectionist sentiment at home.
U.S. spending on foreign policy--defense, aid, and diplomacy--has been halved since 1962, while entitlements grab evermore tax dollars. Congress should now be investing more in national security, not beggaring it for a peace dividend.
American businessmen are daydreaming of Havana, lobbying harder for an end to the embargo against Cuba and grousing over business missed on the island. In navigating a thicket of laws, they have started a trickle of commerce, but do not expect a gush until well after the presidential election.
The American century, far from being over, is on the way. The information revolution, which capsized the Soviet Union and propelled Japan to eminence, has altered the equation of national power. America leads the world in the new technologies. Its emerging military systems can thwart any threat. On the "soft-power" side, it projects its ideals and other countries follow. To prevent an information race, America must share its lead; to preserve its reputation, it must keep its house in order.
The tools and techniques for waging war never stand still, but these are the early days of a revolution in military affairs as momentous as those wrought by the railroad and the airplane. This newest transformation is a consequence of developments in civilian society including the information revolution and postindustrial capitalism. Its satellite imagery and smart bombs will change the forms of combat and armies. Personnel and politics, as always, will be as crucial as technology.
China has become an oil importer, Japan is a leading one, and South Korea is yet worse off. All are anxious about where the energy to fuel their powerhouse economies will come from. This newly significant insecurity exacerbates strains ranging from Chinese territorial disputes to the North Korean nuclear program to fears the region will draw too close to Iraq and Iran. Meanwhile, there are reserves down there, but the region needs enormous assistance in tapping them. The United States and Japan, as Pacific powers, should help assure energy for Asia.
The intervention in Somalia was not an abject failure; an estimated 100,000 lives were saved. But its mismanagement should be an object lesson for peacekeepers in Bosnia and on other such missions. No large intervention, military or humanitarian, can remain neutral or assuredly brief in a strife-torn failed state. Nation-building, the rebuilding of a state's basic civil institutions, is required in fashioning a self-sustaining body politic out of anarchy. In the future, the United States, the United Nations, and other intervenors should be able to declare a state "bankrupt" and go in to restore civic order and foster reconciliation.
The United Nations has stepped forward to meet the challenges of a world simultaneously fragmenting and going global. The world body has led the way in defining human rights, assisting states as they grope toward democracy and the market, calling attention to ignored conflicts, and cooperating with nongovernmental organizations. But it cannot fulfill its destiny unless its members provide it with the funds and resources it needs. A strong and independent secretary-general is the key to the U.N.'s future.
Fidel Castro is not on the way out anytime soon. In fact, he may be the best guarantor of Cuba's peaceful transition to a market-oriented economy and more democratic government. A good analogy is with Spanish autocrat Francisco Franco. Like Franco, Castro allied himself with the losing side in the grand sweep of history, but he has slowly reintegrated his nation with the world by pushing tourism, seeking foreign investment, gradually liberalizing the political system, and expanding civil liberties. Castro has more support in Cuba than many in the West think, and the United States should begin a phaseout of its embargo tied to Cuba's economic and political performance.
South Africa's political miracle may not be followed by an economic one. Despite its claims of superiority to black governments to the north, the National Party pursued economic policies like most African countries'--import substitution, a wasteful public sector--leading to staggering black unemployment. Only slow private sector growth can lift the black majority out of poverty. But the National Unity government, while avoiding the worst populist temptations, must win citizens over to structural adjustment with gains in education, infrastructure investment, and affirmative action. Of those given little, much is asked.
Reviews & Responses
Regardless of discrimination, workers from certain cultures have prospered wherever they migrated, according to Thomas Sowell. But immigration, once a source of skills and diversity, is now a means of exporting social problems.
Seymour Martin Lipset explains why the United States is exceptional. Michael J. Sandel blames its individualistic tradition for the country's ills and says America should return to the New England town square. But it isn't exceptional, and it shouldn't return.