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East Timor and Kosovo highlighted the United Nations' growing importance. So why is Washington marginalizing, bankrupting, and scapegoating the world body?
China's saber-rattling over its "renegade province" ignores Taiwan's decades of democracy. If Beijing wants one China, it should conciliate, not intimidate.
America should use its post-Cold War hegemony wisely by deepening its ties with its NATO allies and thereby save itself from the temptations of overwhelming power.
Across one of the world's most sensitive regions, radical Islam and repressive politics are gaining ground. As they consolidate their power over Afghanistan, the Taliban are starting to destabilize the entire surrounding area -- and beyond. Muslim fundamentalists from around the globe study revolution under their tutelage, rebel armies find sanctuary on their turf, and the drugs and other goods that are smuggled out of the country are undermining the economies of Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors. The Great Game has changed, and the West must learn the new rules.
This article appears in the Foreign Affairs eBook, "The U.S. vs. al Qaeda: A History of the War on Terror." Now available for purchase.
Last year's nuclear tests by both India and Pakistan brought world attention to the decades-old Kashmir conflict. Claimed by both countries, the former princely state has been ravaged by a war that shows no sign of ending. Both rivals have invested heavily in blood and treasure to make Kashmir their own. Now Afghan-trained mujahideen are leading the fight, bringing their own foreign brand of radical Islam. Neither New Delhi nor Islamabad has ever asked what Kashmiris want. They would not like the answer: more than anything else, Kashmiris hope to be left alone.
As the United States and Europe dither, an often-ignored factor is increasingly imperiling NATO's future: the sorry state of transatlantic cooperation in the defense industry. The U.S. and European defense industries are growing increasingly separate, undermining NATO's political base and strengthening America's isolationists. The leading defense companies on both sides of the Atlantic should start working together -- for their mutual benefit, and for NATO's.
Ronald Reagan's dream never died; it only faded slightly. Star Wars is still with us in a scaled-back form. Although theater missile defenses -- popularized by the Gulf War's Patriots -- are now widely accepted, debate still rages over a nationwide system. Republicans worry about rogue states and terrorists with nukes, Democrats worry about angering Russia and violating treaty obligations, and neither side listens to the other. America is pouring billions of dollars into research and development, ignoring the fundamental flaws that missile defense has yet to overcome.
The new South Africa that Nelson Mandela has bequeathed to Thabo Mbeki is still, alas, beset with serious problems. Despite high hopes and some progress, South African society remains divided and troubled. Crime is rampant, foreign investment is scarce, poverty is endemic, corruption is on the rise, inequality is pervasive, and the educational system is abysmal for blacks and declining for others. Mbeki's South Africa may be becoming just another African country.
Peace in the Balkans depends on economic stability and prosperity for all. To overcome the legacies of failed economic reforms and ethnic strife, southeastern Europe needs nothing short of a European "New Deal." Sound money and free trade can take root in the Balkans only if the EU expands the euro and its trade arrangements to the region promptly, with no strings attached. But the EU's current approach, which attaches conditions to membership in its elite clubs, falls far short.
War-ravaged Bosnia has come a long way since the 1995 Dayton Accord. But Bosnia's stability rests on the West's large-scale involvement. Integration remains an unfulfilled hope. When foreign aid tapers off, as it soon will, Bosnia's economy will grind to a halt without major reforms. The world should safeguard Dayton's biggest success -- ending Europe's bloodiest war since World War II -- but hand Bosnia's political and economic future back to Bosnians.
The NATO war in Kosovo did not come out of the blue. The alliance fought only after Belgrade turned a deaf ear to diplomacy, and NATO knew the risks it was running. But doing nothing would have been worse; assenting to Slobodan Milosevic's mass killings would have dangerously undermined the credibility of Western institutions.
The global financial turmoil that began in Thailand in 1997 has forced the international community to reevaluate the institutions, structures, and policies aimed at crisis prevention and resolution. In September 1998 President Clinton suggested that a distinguished private-sector group assess the need for reform of the international financial architecture. With this concern in mind, the Council on Foreign Relations sponsored the Independent Task Force on the Future of the International Financial Architecture, cochaired by Peter G. Peterson, chairman of both the Council and the Blackstone Group and secretary of commerce during the Nixon administration, and Carla A. Hills, CEO of Hills & Co. and U.S. Trade Representative during the Bush administration.
Reviews & Responses
Stephen D. Krasner takes a hard look at the old idea that states are unfettered actors. Sovereignty has never been absolute, but it is still a useful lens for viewing the world.