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Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has pressured every country in the world to make a simple choice: Are you with the United States or with the terrorists? But by casting the choice so starkly--and expanding the war on terror to include its campaign in Iraq--Washington has alienated many natural and potential allies and made the fight against al Qaeda more difficult. It didn't have to be this way. The White House has acted as if it doesn't care what others think, and the country is paying the price for its mistake.
Despite the myriad setbacks of recent months, the U.S.-European alliance is not doomed. But repairing it will require a strategic overhaul no less bold than that which followed the end of the Cold War. The key to today's transatlantic divide is not power but purpose. To revive and revamp the alliance, therefore, the United States and the European Union must forge a new grand strategy capable of meeting the great challenges of the era: expanding the Euro-Atlantic community and stabilizing the greater Middle East.
The Bush administration has spoken about the dangers posed by failed and failing states, but it has not made fixing these trouble spots a top priority, concentrating instead on rogues and weapons of mass destruction. This error will undermine the administration's broader objective of making the world a safer place. Washington must develop a coherent and committed strategy to prevent and contain state failure. Unless it does, the United States will soon face a new set of global challenges and be overwhelmed.
Why did most of the world abandon Washington when it went after Saddam Hussein? The war in Iraq could never have been an easy sell, but nor should it have been such a difficult one. The Bush administration badly botched the prewar maneuvering, presenting a textbook study in how not to wage a diplomatic campaign.
Multilateralism is a means, not an end, and there is no more multilateral body than the UN. That may make it unwieldy at times, but the UN's inclusiveness is the key to the legitimacy only it can confer. The organization thus remains an essential force in international politics, and one the United States benefits from greatly.
The Bush administration's tone-deaf approach to the Middle East reflects a dangerous misreading of the nature and sources of Arab public opinion. Independent, transnational media outlets have transformed the region, and the administration needs to engage the new Arab public sphere that has emerged.
The Pentagon is planning the greatest change in the U.S. overseas military posture in 50 years. Small, light forward bases in new countries are to replace large, heavy deployments in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. But such changes may have unintended political consequences, ones Washington has yet to seriously consider.
The White House's recent call for a dramatic increase in U.S. foreign aid, in the form of a new Millennium Challenge Account and an HIV/AIDS proposal, is unexpected but welcome. By themselves, however, these programs can have only modest success in fighting poverty and combating AIDS. Much more must be done.
On the very day U.S. forces entered Iraq last March, Fidel Castro launched a major crackdown on Cuban dissidents; 75 have since been imprisoned. Just why he chose to crush the reformers remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: his country may be crumbling, but the commandante's grip on power remains as tight as ever.
From news services to "blogs," the Internet has revolutionized the international news market--opening it up to a broader and more active audience. Such technological innovations are rapidly changing the way people produce and consume news, making the traditional model of foreign correspondence obsolete.
Threatened by pollution, rising temperatures and water levels, and unrestrained fishing, the oceans' future is in jeopardy. The Bush administration and Congress must get their act together to protect them, and their wealth of natural resources, from a deepening crisis.
Reviews & Responses
Did the United Kingdom's influence in its heyday match the United States' today? Two Hegemonies provides an answer; but "empire" might be the better word.