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The Hague tribunal has focused attention on crimes against humanity, but its limited success raises questions about the future of international law.
European Monetary Union may be an economic undertaking, but it is as much about politics and the prospects for European integration as about pfennigs and francs.
Although NATO is reinventing itself with newfound vigor, the effectiveness of the alliance requires that Washington grant Europe greater independence on defense.
The Dayton accord reached in November 1995 was something historically familiar: a partition agreement. As in Bosnia today, partition has usually arisen not as a means of national self-determination but as a way for great powers to "divide and quit." Often described as the only workable solution to ethnic feuding, partitions have in fact generally fomented violence and required further international intervention. Similar conditions ensure that Bosnia will turn into a policy of divide and be forced to stay. Had outside powers worked from the beginning to reintegrate the fractured country, Bosnia, the Balkans, and Europe might have had a more durable resolution. The Dayton agreement should evoke memories not of Munich but of Cyprus.
Russia's era of romantic democracy is over. Boris Yeltsin's victory in the 1996 elections marked the rise of a new class of oligarchs who have profited from post-Cold War chaos. But Westerners who predict a return to authoritarianism and cultural stagnation overlook how far Russia has come since the late 1980s, and how it has opened to the world. It is not the Soviet Union, nor the land of the czars. In the short term, most Russians cannot hope for much, especially from their leaders. But with its political reforms, 98 percent privatized economy, and educated, urban population, Russia has a great deal going for it-maybe more than China.
The nation-state may be obsolete in an internetted world. Increasingly, the resources and threats that matter disregard governments and borders. States are sharing powers that defined their sovereignty with corporations, international bodies, and a proliferating universe of citizens groups. The bond markets must be satisfied or capital will go elsewhere. International involvement in domestic crises is a growth industry. Activists fight battles in cyberspace for every imaginable cause-and the nation-state gives in. The ramifications of this power shift will be seismic.
The greatest threat to the authority of European states comes not from Brussels but from within. Northern Italy, the Rhone-Alpes, proud Catalonia, and other economically and culturally vibrant regions are asserting their identity and taking advantage of European integration to develop ties across national frontiers. Regions are opening embassies abroad and negotiating their own trade agreements, while cities link themselves in state-of-the-art transportation networks and court foreign business. As central governments worldwide lose credibility, regionalism appears to be the coming dynamic, nowhere more than in Europe.
What enthusiasts took for a global rush to democracy may be reversing direction, with backsliding and stalled transitions in the former Soviet Union, Africa, the Middle East. So far, one sees disarray or new strongmen much like the old; no competing ideologies seem to be beckoning. Market reforms have not been the cause in most cases. More affluent countries with Western ties seem to be sticking the course better. However the trend plays out, it should lead the administration to rethink democracy promotion. The truth is that U.S. policy is not significantly responsible for democracy's advance or retreat in the world.
Once the land of the unfree and the home of the coup, Latin America now exhibits many of the hallmarks of democracy: free and fair elections, smooth successions, free-market economies, and the birth of political parties. In spite of these recent advances, the region remains haunted by "fracasomania," or an obsession with failure. While Latin America has achieved the broad brushstrokes of democracy, it must confront corruption, protect the rights of indigenous peoples, and distribute wealth more evenly to resolve its crisis of representation.
The Middle East has probably been debating Western modernity longer than anywhere else, as many try to become modern without becoming Western. Since the sixteenth century, when British ships and trading companies sailed in, the region has become all too aware of Western superiority on the battlefield and in the marketplace. Middle Easterners have busily adopted or rejected Western innovations, trying to catch up or blaming the West for their predicament, or both. Meanwhile, their glorious history and their forebears' contribution to Western civilization is often buried and forgotten. In every age the dominant civilization defines modernity and claims the credit. Once it was Islam, now it is the West.
Reviews & Responses
Aid organizations today are businesses as interested in market share as the Fortune 500, Michael Maren claims in The Road to Hell. Maren's book oversimplifies as it enlightens. Modern humanitarianism is still the best tool for saving lives.
Tony Judt is right to have doubts about the future of European union, but his jeremiad lacks an eye for detail.
Capitalism may lead to democracy and democracy may lead to peace, but along the way it has brought economic hardship and total war. Though a gadfly, William Greider issues a fiery and prescient warning amid the triumph of capitalism.
There have always been prophets of decline, as Arthur Herman notes in his survey of pessimists, but they have not always been wrong. Nietzsche, a declinist, identified the hallmark of mass culture: the erosion of individual authenticity.
In his history of the Council on Foreign Relations, Peter Grose conveys the broad-minded spirit of the undertaking, then the bittersweet broadening of an institution after Vietnam fractured the consensus.