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A divided, decentralized government and a hostile media -- especially cable TV and the Internet -- have hamstrung the presidency, just when the world needs U.S. leadership.
Sanctions slapped on foreign countries by U.S. cities and states are starting to be struck down by the courts, and rightly so. America can afford only one foreign policy.
As oil flirts with prices that call to mind the shocks of the 1970s, the usual Cassandras have been warning of dwindling oil supplies and sky-high prices. But the danger is precisely the opposite. The next two decades will witness a prolonged surplus of oil, which will tamp prices down. This world of cheap oil will have serious political reverberations. Without rising oil revenues, such key states as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico, and Colombia will face worsening crises at home. The same is true in spades for Central Asia, where Washington's current wrongheaded policies could drag it into crises that make the Balkans look like a pregame warm-up. The world should worry less about a scarcity of oil than about a glut.
The world needs more energy, and there is one clean, efficient, and safe way to get it: nuclear power. As the global appetite for electricity grows, atomic power -- which scarcely pollutes, generates relatively little solid waste, and is far more efficient than the alternatives -- should be embraced. A worldwide effort to develop and share nuclear technology is in all our interests.
With no Soviet threat, America has found it exceedingly difficult to define its "national interest." Foreign policy in a Republican administration should refocus the country on key priorities: building a military ready to ensure American power, coping with rogue regimes, and managing Beijing and Moscow. Above all, the next president must be comfortable with America's special role as the world's leader.
Today, America's economic vitality and military strength are unparalleled. America is at the hub of a changing economic world and must ambitiously promote open competition among regions. But the last century proved that economics alone does not ensure peace, so America must have unquestioned military superiority as well. A Republican administration must undo the mistakes of the last eight years.
Last fall's protests at the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle made it clear that trade policy is no longer the exclusive domain of sheltered elites and corporate interests. Following the example of big business, unions are now going global -- backed by a growing worldwide consensus that freer trade must also protect human rights, the environment, and decent working conditions. The international ups strike in 1997 showed just how effective this new strategy can be.
Advocates of humanitarian intervention often claim that 5,000 U.N. troops alone could have staved off the Rwandan genocide in 1994. But a more realistic appraisal suggests that an intervention of any size would have required much more time and logistical planning than most proponents care to admit. Given the genocide's terrifying pace, even a major mission by the West could have saved only a fraction of the ultimate victims. Herewith a reassessment of the limits of intervention.
The return of U.N. arms inspectors to Iraq would do more harm than good -- making a mockery of arms control and actually helping Saddam Hussein develop his doomsday arsenal over the long term. With support for threats of force flagging, a renewed, enfeebled inspection mission will find only what Saddam wants it to. He will then push to have Iraq certified as free of nonconventional arms, which would end the sanctions that keep Saddam in his box. Better an impasse than a sham.
In Iran today, defiant new movements are blossoming. They put the country on the cutting edge of the Islamic world on issues ranging from religious reform and cultural expression to women's rights. The theocratic regime that seized power in 1979 is unlikely to survive, but the driving force behind that revolution is prompting ordinary Iranians to go out and get what they need for themselves.
Just as Asia began asserting itself economically in the 1960s and 1970s, it now does so militarily. The rise of Asian military power ushers in a new age in which Western interference in Asia will prove far more treacherous and costly than ever. For the first time in modern history, Asia has the power to shape its future -- for better or worse.
Reviews & Responses
Two major revisionist histories of the Arab-Israeli conflict are landmarks along the Jewish state's painful road away from its sentimentalized past.
In his new book, Amartya Sen adds a moral dimension to development economics that gives broader meaning to the term "quality of life."
With facts and a touch of fiction, Mikhail Gorbachev recounts the breakup of the Soviet Union and warns the West not to mangle the post-Cold War world.
The authorized biography of the saintly Nelson Mandela and the autobiography of the bitter F. W. de Klerk highlight the birth pains of the new South Africa.
Letter to the EditorSergio Vieira De Mello
Letter to the EditorMax Baucus
Letter to the EditorMobo C. F. Gao
Letter to the EditorPamela S. Falk
Letter to the EditorMorton Abramowitz
Letter to the EditorBrent Scowcroft
Letter to the EditorPatrick Tyler