- Browse by Issue:
The big man was crucial to his country's unification and looms large in the drive for European union, but German policy has a long-running life of its own.
The developing world will be the main beneficiary of global climate control -- with the developed world picking up the tab. But wouldn't it be better to invest in development today than pay for climate relief tomorrow?
Jamming radio and television programs that incite mass violence may be one way, short of military intervention, for the international community to avert genocide.
Around the world, democratically elected regimes are routinely ignoring limits on their power and depriving citizens of basic freedoms. From Peru to the Philippines, we see the rise of a disturbing phenomenon: illiberal democracy. It has been difficult to recognize because for the last century in the West, democracy -- free and fair elections -- has gone hand in hand with constitutional liberalism -- the rule of law and basic human rights. But in the rest of the world, these two concepts are coming apart. Democracy without constitutional liberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic competition, conflict, and war. The international community and the United States must end their obsession with balloting and promote the gradual liberalization of societies.
The West accounts for a disproportionate share of world income because it has already passed through capitalist development. Now that Asia is becoming capitalist, it will return to the center of the world economy, where it was in the early nineteenth century. Current currency crises are only blips on the screen. Asia's miracle transpired not because of shrewd industrial policy or great leaps forward but because countries attracted foreign investment and moved up the development ladder one rung at a time. But ahead lies the challenge, particularly for India and China, of establishing modern governments.
Jean Monnet's dream that European integration would eliminate conflict may have been a delusion. France and other countries do not share Germany's fixation on sound money -- or its hegemonic vision. A European central bank would be unresponsive to local unemployment, while political union would remove competitive pressures within Europe for structural reform, prompting protectionism and conflict with the United States. A Europe of 300 million people and an independent military might be a force for world peace, but war is also a distinct possibility.
Sanctions are a huge slice of the U.S. foreign policy pie -- even cities employ them. Officials like them because they see them as cheaper and cleaner than war. But in the real world, they are expensive, both diplomatically and fiscally, and seldom work. At most they starve large populations while leaving hostile leaders unscathed. If foreign corporations feel they need the ayatollah's business, slapping them with third-party sanctions only alienates their governments further. Policymakers need to think harder before they rush to push the sanctions button.
One of the world's most underreported conflicts rages in Algeria, where 60,000 have died in six years of civil war. The military-backed regime, which has recently been accused of involvement in recurring massacres, has erected a facade of democracy and won the approval of France and the United States. Locked out is the Islamist movement, which scored an overwhelming victory in 1991 elections but was never allowed to take power. Other Arabs watch Algeria fearfully for omens of their countries' fates, caught between bad governments and political Islam.
The pending Young Bill calling for a referendum on Puerto Rico's political status offers an opportunity for the United States to end an embarrassing vestige of its imperialist ambitions. Independence would permit Puerto Rico to develop its economy and retain its national culture and Spanish language. But unless the Senate is forward-looking, ruling out commonwealth and making clear the price of statehood, centuries of repression and the lure of more federal benefits may land America with Puerto Rico's unwelcome petition to become the fifty-first state.
Those who say big government is the problem have it wrong. The real problem is that government is pushed and pulled by interest groups and partisan politicking, often at the public's expense. Washington could learn from independent agencies like the Federal Reserve. Shift responsibility for things like tax policy from the politicians to the experts; besides knowing more, they work in a politics-free zone. Tossing the ball to the technocrats won't weaken democracy -- Congress can always take it back -- but it will produce better policy.
Although we bandy the word about, it is surprising how little we understand globalization. Often confused as one and the same, interdependence is actually an important precursor of globalization. But as more countries leave an interdependent world and are buffeted by the forces of globalization, policymakers are tempted to react with anachronistic strategies -- the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, the Helms-Burton Act, Quebec's secession -- that threaten the new order. Global public policy is the way to evolve, and will show the way between competing worlds.
Reviews & Responses
Walter LaFeber and Michael Schaller have both written stimulating diplomatic histories of Japan. Unfortunately, Japan's history is less one of outstanding statesmen than of the people they served.