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In this 1999 article, Michael Mandelbaum explains why previous NATO interventions, such as that in Kosovo, had just the opposite effect of what NATO intended, leading to civilian suffering and regional instability. James B. Steinberg replies.
The U.N. Security Council has suffered a disastrous year: ignored by NATO, defied by Iraq, and hamstrung by great-power vetoes. Here's how to fix it.
A curious authoritarian streak runs through the Third Way rhetoric of Tony Blair and other European leaders. The new center is ominously silent about freedom.
After unifying its currencies, Europe is trying to build its own army. The idea is good strategy and better economics.
No, it is not a silly question -- merely one that is not asked often enough. Odd as it may seem, the country that is home to a fifth of humankind is consistently overrated as an economy, a world power, and a source of ideas. Economically, China is a relatively unimportant small market; militarily, it is less a global rival like the Soviet Union than a regional menace like Iraq; and politically, its influence is puny. The Middle Kingdom is a middle power. China matters far less than it and most of the West think, and it is high time the West began treating it as such.
The only certainties in today's world are that geopolitics are becoming more multipolar and that America will not stay on top forever. But the United States can protect its interests by embracing and defining the new multipolarity -- rooting it in norms of state behavior rather than just a balance of power. This means fostering international cooperation (so as not to do too little) and developing a set of guidelines for intervention (so as not to do too much). Trading some American power for a more stable international system would be a good deal for America and the world.
The economic conflagrations that lit up the world throughout the last half decade sent a very clear message: There are fatal flaws in the global financial architecture. The Bretton Woods system was designed for a very different world. The IMF, part schoolmarm and part firefighter, no longer plays either role well. Too often, it ignores the real victims and makes crises worse. The system must be redrawn to stabilize markets and head off panics before they spin out of control. Herewith a simple, eight-point plan for such reforms that uses existing institutions and respects current notions of national sovereignty.
Most people think that Russia's economic problems are due to the shock of fast and radical reforms. Actually, the Russian economy is not very liberalized at all, and its problems have been caused by reforms that were too slow and partial, not too sweeping. Russia suffers not from too free a market but from corruption, which thrives by preying on an unwieldy bureaucracy. Still, the outlook for the months ahead is promising. If Poland could do it, why can't Russia? The private sector got a salutary wake-up call from the 1998 collapse of the ruble, and the strength of the political center bodes well for economic recovery and social change.
U.S. trade policy is adrift and under siege. America's traditional commitment to open markets is now buffeted by both left and right, from labor unions and environmentalists to big business and "America First" isolationists. Fortunately, the advent of the World Trade Organization offers Washington a chance to balance the protectionist threat. If the United States cooperates with the WTO to settle trade disputes multilaterally, it can dilute both protectionist pressure at home and anti-American resentment abroad. But robust leadership and commitment will be needed, and neither Congress nor President Clinton seems up to the task.
Only Nixon could go to China, but even the architect of America's opening to the world's most populous communist power had to leave full normalization of U.S.-Chinese ties to his heirs. Jimmy Carter knew when he took office that he would take the final difficult step. But no one imagined that the China breakthrough would come as a result of all-out civil war between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose competition reached startling depths. At every turn down a very long road, momentous decisions on Taiwan and Cold War strategy jostled with bitter personal rivalries.
The debates over Kosovo blurred the old divisions between liberals and conservatives, but they did not rise above an even older split in American politics and foreign policy: the enduring divide between a hawkish South and a dovish North. Regional differences based on culture and values have made Greater New England the heartland of opposition to foreign wars and the U.S. military establishment since the 1700s; they have also made the South a bastion of interventionism. All too often, the regional divides over U.S. foreign policy have just been a reprise of the Civil War -- and they are a recipe for paralysis.
Reviews & Responses
Two important new books explore just what it means to be English -- for an individual, for a nation, and for an erstwhile empire.
A new book argues that blunt economic self-interest, not political idealism, was the great historical motor behind European integration.