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Bill Clinton is the first U.S. president since Andrew Johnson to support the Irish strongly against Great Britain--in this case, over Northern Ireland. Born of competition for Irish-American votes, the policy has some declaring the end of the Anglo-American "special relationship."
The U.S.-led effort to revive the peso staved off a Great Depression in Mexico. The Mexican economy is turning the corner and paying off its debt to the United States. Mexico was not broke last year; it faced a liquidity crisis. Clinton's action ensured that economic reform in Mexico--and other developing nations--continues.
Not everyone is a winner in the global economy. Unemployment is high in Europe and inequality is rising in the United States as growth proves disappointing and foreign competition drives wages down. While economists debate causes and officials fret over inflation, protectionism threatens world trade. Postwar policymakers, learning from the upheaval of the 1930s, struck a deal with workers. Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oaks would foster global commerce, and the International Monetary Fund and domestic public policy would make sure that everyone gained. Stagflation in the 1970s undermined this social contract. Policymakers today must abandon their fiscal stringency, or more unpleasant leaders may rise.
Moscow with a Soviet hangover tests the patience even of those who most wish to engage it. As Chechnya festers, privatization lags, and the world contemplates the possibility of a communist president in the Kremlin dreaming of empire, some ridicule the notion of partnership. Russian chauvinists paint America as the enemy, but the interests of the two countries after the Cold War are compatible. The West should focus its attention--and Russia's--on common interests like nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, regional peace, and full participati0n in the world economy. America should deal rationally with irrationalities in a nation finding its way.
Ukraine has yet to solve the challenge of life after communism. Hyperinflation is just a memory and democracy is well entrenched, but production is declining, state industries remain unsold, and investors have largely stayed away. With nationalists ascendant in Russia, Ukraine needs Western money and diplomatic backing to preserve its independence and keep reform on track. A free, democratic Ukraine can serve as a model for Russia, prevent a new Soviet Union, and promote stability among its neighbors. A civil war between its Russified east and its more Ukrainian west, or its absorption into a new Russian empire, would reverberate throughout Europe.
China is headed in the right direction. Deng's successors cannot achieve his stature, and the more stable and secure China remains, the faster power will devolve to a more liberal generation. As in other Asian nations, economic development will foster political liberalization, as well as a capitalist Hong Kong and an independent Taiwan. Though decentralization is stressful, China does not suffer from the structural weaknesses that undermined the Soviet Union. Corruption and human rights abuses are severe, but citizens can vote in competitive local elections and change jobs as they wish. China should be permitted to continue a liberation unprecedented in history.
Stop searching for order. The international structure established by the liberal democracies after World War II is still in place, and in many ways stronger than ever. Containment got most of the attention, but the liberal powers' agreement to manage trade, security, and other big matters cooperatively has been more durable, and more successful than most recognize. Besides, the order is deeply rooted in the American experience of democracy and constitutionalism. It shaped the Germany and Japan of today, and now most of the rest of the world wants to join.
The West has triumphed over its adversaries, but all is not well in the realm. Its voters are unhappy, its politics adrift. Now is not the time to pursue ambitious plans that would simultaneously deepen and broaden existing institutions. The West must lock in and eventually extend the greatest achievement of the past century: the creation of a community of democratic states among which war is unthinkable. The mechanism would be a transatlantic union committed to a single market and collective security.
Regional trade blocs, which account for 60 percent of world trade, have opened markets, but they cannot substitute for worldwide reciprocity. To prevent free trade from remaining their privilege alone, rich Northern countries should strike a bargain with poorer ones: low tariffs for greater market access. The grander the initiative, the greater the chance of success, particularly now that the United States is in danger of backsliding. Since export industries offer higher pay and more stable jobs, a firm date for free trade can solve America's most pressing problem, stagnating wages and the attendant social ills.
Reviews & Responses
Judith Miller knocked in the Middle East, and many doors opened. But her focus on Islamic militancy blinded her to enlightened currents of Islam. Separation of religion and state is not a real option in a region where the faith is central to life, but Muslims can choose what kind of Islam will hold sway.
Lester Brown asks, Who Will Feed China? He forecasts food shortages there in coming decades, caused by population growth, a depleted environment, and farm production that he claims is pushing its limits. But he misgauges the potential of farmland and markets worldwide. The real problem is, who will feed Africa?