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The United Nations has usurped power from its members, threatening American interests. The time has come to deliver an ultimatum: Either the United Nations reforms quickly and dramatically or the United States will end its participation.
The European Union has become incompetent and unpopular. Germany and France must flout Maastricht, attacking unemployment lest it wreck the euro's debut. Without a far more flexible union, a 45-year effort will fall apart.
The heroes of Solidarity have been rejected by voters after a few years in office. The reason was not their painful economic reforms but failure to learn the basic skills of democratic politicians: pragmatism, showmanship, and coalition-building.
Meet the terrorist of the future: less ideological, more likely to harbor ethnic grievances, perhaps fired by apocalpytic visions, harder to distinguish from others outside the law. He (or she) is armed with new weapons and experimenting with others, and using them more indiscriminately. Terrorism is by no means the only option now; a political wing can openly raise funds, run schools, and contest elections. The loner with a grudge has turned to terror, and may be the computer hacker next door. At the other end of the scale, state-sponsored terrorism takes the place of warfare. The destructive power of terrorism is on the rise, and the most advanced societies are the most vulnerable.
China may be the high church of realpolitik in the post-Cold War world. Its military and civilian elites regard other nations, alliances, and internationalism of any stripe with suspicion. There are only two exceptions. Realpolitik would suggest that any rift between the United States and Japan is good for China. But China fears the remilitarization of Japan more than it dislikes American forces (which maintain the status quo in East Asia). And with Taiwan, China is willing to risk a major confrontation over even a nominal change in the island's status. With a huge stake in the region, America should figure these realities into its strategy.
The end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf conflict sparked the Madrid conference, formal peace between Israel and Jordan, and some autonomy for the West Bank. But those days have gone. Even if Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu had lost the election, Arab countries would still be more preoccupied with economic problems, internal political challenges, and security threats from Iraq and Iran. But the end of the era of treaties need not be the end of the peace process. The plo should discourage violence against Israel, and Israel should disrupt Syrian support for Hezbollah. The United States must maintain the principle of territory for peace.
Reporters and pundits have spun many theories as to why Yeltsin won. None of them matches the polling data. Clever campaigning, anticommunist scare tactics, even efforts to end the war in Chechnya came at the wrong time. Boris Yeltsin passed Gennadi Zyuganov in the polls only when he traveled the country ladling out pork. Yeltsin doubled the minimum pension and paid off the backlog in wages. A Vorkuta coal miner asked for a car -- and got it. A presidential aide slipped a bystander a handful of cash. High-minded criticism from the West notwithstanding, Tammany tactics are hardly unknown in Western politics, and they did keep a communist out of office.
Four or five million strong, France's Muslims, mainly from former North African colonies, have made Islam the country's second religion. Invited to immigrate in a decade of boom, Europe's Muslims are less welcome today, and considered threats to jobs and security. In France, a faith uneasy with assimilation comes up against a government offering integration into society, on its own determinedly secular terms. A battle over a head scarf reveals deep cultural rifts.
A mere 53,000 voters defeated proposed Quebec secession last October. While Francophones and some fed-up Canadians would love a separation, both assume the rest of Canada will remain whole. But federalism would be weakened, and four provinces would be geographically severed. Montrealers and native peoples within Quebec might demand independence. Although it prefers a united Canada, the United States must prepare a plan for affiliation with Canadian fragments, midway between a treaty and statehood. Balkanization may not be restricted to Eastern Europe.
The battle for the common currency may be remembered as one of the more useless in Europe's history. The euro is hailed as a solution to high unemployment, low growth, and the high costs of welfare states. But the deep budget cuts required before integration are already causing pain and may trigger severe recessions. If the European Monetary Union goes forward, a common currency will eliminate the adjustments now made by nominal exchange rates, and the central bank will control money with an iron fist. Labor markets will do the adjusting, a mechanism bound to fail, given those markets' inflexibility in Europe.