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By blocking international treaties banning land mines and child soldiers, the United States has become an obstacle to the advancement of human rights law.
The conventional wisdom is that U.S. multinationals exploit foreign workers, but the glare of 1990s publicity is driving many firms to export human rights.
A set of principled criteria for responding to claims for ethnic self-determination is long overdue. Policymakers' foremost goal should be protecting human rights.
Initially devised to maintain a system of fixed exchange rates, the IMF took on a new role during the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s-providing moderate amounts of credit, facilitating debt renegotiations, and recommending responsible macroeconomic policies. But the IMF is also applying the lessons of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where a fundamental economic restructuring was necessary, to Asia. So in Korea, for example, the fund called for reform of inefficient conglomerates and inflexible labor laws. However beneficial in the long run, such changes are not needed to resolve the current crisis. By stepping in too far and too soon, the IMF discourages countries from seeking modest help. Even worse, it encourages bankers to undertake more risky loans, making another crisis more likely.
The immediate effect of Asia's crisis will be an oil shock, but in the longer term, Asia's energy needs will be the problem. Asia's energy demand will be more than nine million barrels of oil per day higher in 2010 than it was in 1996--a difference greater than the entire current output of Saudi Arabia. But market integration and cooperation will prevent conflict as countries work together to utilize Central and Southeast Asian natural gas reserves. China, for one, has already reached agreements to develop oil fields in Kazakstan and build a massive pipeline to its Xinjiang province. The South China Sea will remain a concern, but the current crisis will help nations move toward the market and away from state control of energy.
Europe's great drive toward unification can distract attention from the liberal order that already exists in most of the continent. But this extraordinary achievement is itself threatened precisely as a result of Europe's forced march to unity, especially Helmut Kohl's push for European monetary union. Europe's leaders set the wrong priority after 1989 by neglecting the east and federalizing the west. They fiddled in Maastricht while Sarajevo burned. Europeans should instead consolidate and spread across the continent the order that already exists. It provides for security and liberty; more would be less.
Last year, the world gathered at Kyoto to grapple with the threat of global warming. But the Kyoto approach-negotiations to set national limits on the emissions of the greenhouse gases that are heating the earth-cannot solve the problem. The emissions targets will never be met without the cooperation of the developing countries, and they will not consent. We would do better to attack global warming through mutually agreed-upon actions, especially a nationally collected tax on greenhouse gas emissions.
Once the playground of tyrants like Uganda's Idi Amin, Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam, and Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, Africa is finally shedding its postcolonial heritage of despotism and chaos. In Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, a new generation of nationalist leaders with strong and disciplined armies is emerging to take control of the continent. Their fights against the old foreign-supported order have left them suspicious of anything that comes from abroad, especially from France. Still, they are far more accountable and egalitarian than their predecessors-and they want to get into the United States' good books.
One cannot seem to get through a foreign policy debate these days without someone proposing the rule of law as a solution to one problem or another. The rule of law is undeniably important to peaceful, free, and prosperous societies, but it is no quick fix. Imparting the rule of law to a society with no history of it involves changing the attitudes of masses and elites and creating a political culture in which nobody is above the law. Unfortunately, proponents of rule-of-law reform tend to have simpler, less lasting things in mind, like writing legal codes and sprucing up courts.
Russia's post-Soviet orientation is in serious trouble. The West does not want to see any structure in Eurasia that permits Russian hegemony, but abetting continued chaos in the former Soviet space is hardly in the West's interest. Central Asia and the Caucasus are rife with flash points that could ignite and draw in outside powers, and the presence of nuclear weapons raises the stakes even higher. The United States should support integration, not division. For its part, Russia should work with nearby countries to help unite diverse peoples in a stabler system.
Reviews & Responses
In The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, David S. Landes argues that Europe's temperate climate encouraged hard work and capitalist development, while the heat of the tropics brought reliance on slaves. Will the legacy of these differences persist?
Barry Buzan and Gerald Segal's Anticipating the Future boldly treks across disciplinary boundaries to look far ahead, but the authors underestimate the impact of the information revolution.