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The Kyoto Protocol need not be a partisan issue. Climate change needs to be addressed, but the 1997 pact was never going to pass the Senate. By abandoning it, Bush at least avoided hypocrisy. It might take a century to reach a consensus on solving the greenhouse gas problem, but that is no excuse for wasting time getting started.
Faced with spiraling bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians, many observers think the only hope now is for a cease-fire followed by incremental talks. In fact, the opposite is true. Interim solutions will never work, and the time has come for outsiders to put forward a comprehensive plan for a final settlement.
How will the United States defend itself against the unknown, the unseen, and the unexpected? One way is by exploiting new technologies to develop a flexible arsenal: reduced nuclear forces, advanced conventional capabilities, and a range of defenses against missile, space, and computer attacks. Yet all the high-tech weapons in the world will not defend the country unless the Pentagon and the armed forces change the way they train, fight, and think. Americans and their military must accept changing coalitions, understand the need for preemptive offense, and prepare for a new kind of war that may increasingly be waged with nonmilitary means. Now is precisely the time to begin making these changes; September 11 is all the proof we need.
Donald Rumsfeld has gotten better press as a secretary of war than he did as a secretary of defense. But the latter job is tougher, so he deserves some sympathy. The dilemmas of U.S. defense policy today reflect more than individual foibles and the difficulty of transforming a giant, often dysfunctional bureaucracy. Even more important, they stem from America's profoundly ambivalent and only semiconscious acceptance of its unique, world-historical role. Whatever the pace at which the Pentagon adapts to that fact, it must do so, and the more swiftly the better.
The military campaign in Afghanistan has been, for the most part, a masterpiece of creativity and finesse. It may wind up being one of the most notable U.S. military successes since World War II. But the American strategy has also had flaws. Most important, by contracting out much of the work to undependable local proxies, it may have allowed Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders to escape -- and menace the world down the road.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faces disaster on two fronts: ongoing unrest from the Palestinians on one side and a disintegrating domestic coalition on the other. Seemingly paralyzed, Sharon has not responded well to either. So far, Israelis have remained mostly loyal to the former general, and Washington has stayed largely supportive. Both those situations could change, however, unless Sharon comes up with a plan. He may already have one in mind, but not one anyone else is hoping for.
President Bush's condemnation of North Korea as part of the "axis of evil" caused confusion worldwide, as allies and enemies alike tried to discern his administration's constantly shifting policy toward Pyongyang. But there is method to the madness. Look closely, and a consistent strategy emerges: "hawk engagement." Although Bush's team may use tactics seemingly similar to those of Clinton's, the administration wants to engage Kim Jong Il for very different reasons: to set him up for a fall.
In the aftermath of September 11, the Indian government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has acted decisively to support the U.S. war on terrorism and put pressure on archrival Pakistan. But these are not the only items on Vajpayee's post-911 agenda: to hold on to power, his government must also handle domestic political crises, defuse Hindu-Muslim tension, and recharge a faltering economy.
Supporters see the biotechnology revolution in agriculture as a Promethean step forward, whereas critics see it as the start down a slope to futuristic disaster. The supporters are right about the potential benefits of genetically engineered crops, but the critics are correct that the situation calls for government regulation. Free markets alone will not suffice to realize the new technology's promise while avoiding its pitfalls.
Last fall's anthrax attacks, and the fear and confusion that followed, made it all too clear that the United States lacks a comprehensive strategy for coping with bioterrorism. For too long, thinking about biological weapons has been held hostage to misplaced analogies to nuclear or chemical weapons. An effective strategy must begin by focusing on the special challenges posed by biological threats.
Reviews & Responses
What happened in Kosovo, and what lessons can be learned from it? Three new books examine the conflict and its influence on how America fights. But as scholars debate the recent past, the new war on terror may rewrite military textbooks once again.
Bernard Lewis asks what went wrong with Islam and finds centuries of victimhood; Gilles Kepel considers Islamism a utopian project whose moment has passed. Together, their books depict the passionate debate over politics in the Muslim world.