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A successful U.S. foreign policy cannot be carried out with barely one percent of the federal budget. The next president must end this dangerous charade.
Europe is about to create a unified military force. Done wrong, it could strain transatlantic relations and weaken European defense.
The Japanese economy of old -- coddled by an overbearing government and riddled with corruption -- is dying. Today Japan is undergoing nothing short of an economic revolution. No longer able to count on bailouts, banks are restructuring. Companies are putting profits ahead of personal loyalties. Reforms are breathing life into decayed industries. And the climate for foreign investment is better than ever. The most important force for change is the wave of small, creative, high-tech companies that have built Japan's very own Silicon Valley. The government's lackluster economic stewardship is no longer important. The state is not driving today's revolution; business is.
The Asian financial crisis had a side benefit: prodding the Japanese government to fix its economy. But as the sense of urgency eased, so too did the momentum for change. The Liberal Democratic Party, never a true champion of reform, now blocks deregulation from every angle. Wasteful public spending has created little but debt. And the public's trust in its government is all but gone. Recovery would require Japan's politicians to give up the many benefits of the status quo, which they will not do without a fight. So Japan's reforms are stalled permanently. Its economy is, too.
Washington is leaving a crucial piece out of the nuclear puzzle. It will be China, not Russia or any rogue, whose nuclear policy will concern America most in the years ahead. The People's Republic has started to modernize its arsenal, and Western actions will help determine just what form China's force ultimately takes. Before rushing to deploy missile defenses, Washington should consider whether they would solve a problem or create one.
Colombia is waging a war on two fronts: against guerrillas and against drugs. The former cannot be won on the battlefield alone. If the current peace talks fail, the country will plunge into all-out chaos. So the United States needs to take Colombia off the back burner and work with its government to help tamp down the violence, limit the drug lords' clout, lower the demand for drugs abroad, and prod the peace process along. Without these steps, even billions in U.S. aid will not be enough.
The world's newest country has become the U.N.'s pet project: an experiment in "nation-building." With its resilient political culture, East Timor is unusually well suited to the project. But the U.N. is finding that governing is harder than separating warring parties -- especially when the country has been razed to the ground. And popular resentment is mounting. Rebuilding East Timor physically will be the easy part. Creating a democracy from scratch will be far more difficult.
For decades, Saddam Hussein's fall has been called imminent. But Saddam has held on because of his ruthless personality, clumsy foes, and mastery of Iraq's military, ruling Baath Party, security apparatus, and powerful clans. His most likely successors are his sons, both apt to be as thuggish as their father. The West should nudge Iraq's battered elites to replace Saddam with a less megalomaniacal autocrat from inside his regime and outside his immediate family. But it should not hold its breath.
Anti-Americanism and a stubborn Gaullist independence in foreign policy have often marked French political discourse. These traits are coming to the fore once again in France's wildly popular antiglobalization movement. Today, a complex mix of political, economic, and cultural reasons explains the French resistance to "Anglo-Saxon global capitalism." If sustained, France's stand could become a model for other countries seeking an alternative to the new, American-style world economy.
Despite conflict resolution elsewhere, war still rages unchecked in Africa. But the continent is too important to ignore, so new solutions are needed. The best approach would be to prevent wars before they begin -- and the way to do that is for the West to work closely with democratic partners in the region. South Africa is the key to any long-term peacekeeping plan for Africa. Working closely with the United States, Africa's leading democracy can help distribute aid and spread the liberal values that will give the continent a real chance for peace.
Reviews & Responses
A Future Perfect cuts through the complex issues surrounding globalization and shows that global capitalism has a human side as well.
Letter to the EditorAmos Perlmutter
Letter to the EditorJohn Weston
Letter to the EditorHoward Dean
Letter to the EditorBernard Wasow
Letter to the EditorRoger Leeds
Letter to the EditorMartin J. Gross
Letter to the EditorHilary Barnes
Letter to the EditorXavier Debrun