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The military's backward budget process -- driven by parochial service interests rather than White House or Pentagon priorities -- must be fixed, and soon.
The euro is just the beginning. Within a few decades, single-currency zones will dominate international finance -- although East Asia may be the odd zone out.
Colombians no longer trust their government to salvage the economy, fight the drug lords, or negotiate with the rebels. A bad neighborhood is about to get worse.
NATO's poorly planned adventure in Kosovo has brought a critical question to the fore: just how should Americans define their national interest in the information age? The Soviet Union is gone, and an information revolution has transformed the nature of power. Few "A list" threats to American security loom large today. Global telecommunications have made humanitarian crises in far-flung places impossible to ignore. But before the United States embarks on another costly human rights crusade, Americans should recognize that moral values are only part of a foreign policy. Other essential priorities remain. If Washington neglects to handle the "A list," the consequences for global peace and prosperity will be dire.
Since the establishment of the United Nations, great powers have rarely let small wars burn themselves out. Bosnia and Kosovo are the latest examples of this meddling. Conflicts are interrupted by a steady stream of cease-fires and armistices that only postpone war-induced exhaustion and let belligerents rearm and regroup. Even worse are U.N. refugee-relief operations and NGOs, which keep resentful populations festering in camps and sometimes supply both sides in armed conflicts. This well-intentioned interference only intensifies and prolongs struggles in the long run. The unpleasant truth is that war does have one useful function: it brings peace. Let it.
NATO began its air war against Yugoslavia with high hopes that the transatlantic relationship would find new purpose through robust humanitarian intervention. Alas, Milosevic remains as entrenched as ever. A messy diplomatic compromise is increasingly likely, but anything less than total victory will have grave consequences for America and its allies. Europe will be wary of cooperating with the United States on security and balk at future engagements that lack U.N. blessing. U.S. isolationists will get plenty more grist for their mill. With its expectations set far too high, NATO will pay the price when they come crashing back to earth.
Kosovo has reinforced the Balkans' image as a cauldron of ethnic hatred. Many commentators argue that the region has always been wracked by ancient hatreds, while others maintain that today's strains are artificially created by cynical postcommunist demagogues looking to legitimate their rule. Neither school has it right. Balkan ethnic strains are neither as ancient as time nor as recent as the rise to power of Slobodan Milosevic; rather, they are about as old as the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. To a historian, today's Balkan crises are rooted in, above all, a crippling dependence on the ideology of expansionist nationalism.
U.S.-Chinese relations have been badly damaged by allegations of nuclear espionage and nato's accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. But America's China policy has drifted for more than a decade, bereft of both goals and domestic support. The United States must move beyond the mantra of engagement -- which is a process, not a goal -- to set realistic objectives and drum up public backing. Two places to start are WTO membership and China's stumbling economy. But the two countries must also get used to being at loggerheads about such issues as Taiwan and human rights.
Winning the long showdown with Moscow was an amazing governmental achievement -- whose underpinnings are now at risk. The key to victory was an institutional framework that ably managed defense resources to procure weapons, prepare for a long standoff, and mobilize political support for the Cold War. Unlike the Soviet Union, America innovatively melded public and private efforts to make new arms systems, use interservice rivalries as a goad to innovation, and draw on U.S. technological expertise. But foolishly, all these institutions are being dismantled in the post-Cold War era.
Americans like to take the stability of their southern NAFTA partner for granted. But while things are going well in Mexico, a backlash is brewing. The end of one-party rule has brought chaos to Mexico as three political parties jockey for power in an atmosphere rife with recriminations and dirty tricks. If a minority government emerges from the 2000 elections, it could lose control of the country. Political violence remains a threat, and drug lords and rebel groups undermine the government. It all makes authoritarian solutions ever more attractive. Mexico must wake up before its many nightmares become reality.
Reviews & Responses
A major new work on post-World War II Japan shows how the victorious Allies changed a conservative society unused to defeat and social transformation.
Lester C. Thurow's gloomy new book trumpets the knowledge revolution's virtues but warns that neither Europe, nor Japan, nor even America is ready for them.