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Failed states are increasingly trapped in a cycle of poverty and violence. The solution is for the United States and its allies to learn to love imperialism -- again.
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.
The danger of Argentina's latest economic crisis is that the good policy choices of the past decade will be thrown out with the bad.
Thanks to a steady increase in oil output in recent years, Russia is now poised to displace Saudi Arabia as the key energy supplier to the West. But the kingdom has not welcomed Russia's gain. The emerging contest for oil dominance between Russia and Saudi Arabia will profoundly affect U.S. energy security, Russia's global role, Saudi power, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, not to mention the global economy.
What should the United States do about Iraq? Hawks are wrong to think the problem is desperately urgent or connected to terrorism, but right to see the prospect of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein as so worrisome that it requires drastic action. Doves are right about Iraq's not being a good candidate for an Afghan-style war, but wrong to think that inspections and deterrence alone can contain Saddam. The United States has no choice left but to invade Iraq itself and eliminate the current regime.
The mantra that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam ignores one crucial fact: Islam and politics are inextricably linked throughout the Muslim world. Islamism includes Osama bin Laden and the Taliban but also moderates and liberals. In fact, it can be whatever Muslims want it to be. Rather than push secularism, the West should help empower the silent Muslim majority that rejects radicalism and violence. The result could be political systems both truly Islamist and truly democratic.
To wage its war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration needed Uzbekistan's help -- and promised a lot to get it. But Washington must not let this short-term marriage of convenience give Uzbekistan long-term regional hegemony. The Uzbek regime's authoritarianism fosters Islamic extremism, which in turn exacerbates tensions among Central Asia's unstable governments. Only a multilateral approach can handle the region's many problems.
The world's focus in Afghanistan is shifting from waging war to picking up the pieces and helping the long-suffering Afghan people. But can action follow words? Modern refugee crises require solutions that pair crisis response with nation building, and private agencies with national and international actors. But the organizations devoted to such tasks remain outdated, uncoordinated, and shackled by politicians and bureaucrats. The system is broken, and it cannot be fixed from within.
The United States has put legions of spokespersons on the airwaves at home and abroad in a campaign to "win the hearts and minds" of the Muslim world. So far, however, the world's superpower is losing the propaganda war to a terrorist in hiding. This is not surprising, given the virulent anti-Western messages that repressive Middle Eastern regimes spread through state-run media. Washington should focus instead on bringing freedom of the press to those countries where oppression breeds terrorism.
In a stunning announcement last June, the Chinese government revealed that the country could have as many as 600,000 HIV cases. Outside organizations estimate that the number could be two or three times larger. Once dismissed by Chinese officialdom as a Western problem, the spread of HIV is only now getting serious attention from Beijing. But it may be too late: China already faces a major epidemic.
After years as a pariah, Khartoum has now deftly managed to end its political isolation. The success of its new alliances and the completion of an oil pipeline, however, mean that northern Sudan could indefinitely continue its bloody civil war against the south. Only the United States has the power and prestige to help end the violence and push for a peace that would be in everyone's interests.
Truth commissions have become a favorite way for new democracies to exorcise the demons in their past. As their popularity has spread, however, so has the controversy. Are these commissions truly the best way to achieve justice in transitional societies -- or just a dodge that dictators use to escape accountability?
The EU's expansion into the postcommunist east offers new hope for the Gypsies, Europe's most despised minority. Enforcement of EU human rights law and a growth in political consciousness may finally end the discrimination that the Roma have suffered for centuries. But already the backlash has begun.
Martin Kramer takes on U.S. academe for missing the growing Islamist threat while celebrating nonexistent Muslim democratization. Some of his charges sting, but his blame game goes too far. And defunding universities would hurt rather than help.