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U.S. troops on conquered territory, infrastructure in ruins, international squabbling over reconstruction: a window onto occupied Germany seven months after V-E Day, when progress was still unsteady and Europe's future hung in the balance.
Critics have long derided the U.S. government for stinginess in international giving. But such charges miss the point. Today, it is private funds that make the difference in poor countries, and here the United States leads the pack.
To fight foreign extremism, Washington must remember that winning hearts and minds is just as important as battlefield victories. Military force will not do it alone: the United States must offer desperate youth abroad a compelling ideological alternative.
The recent crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons has had at least one unexpected aspect: the crucial -- and highly effective -- intervention of Beijing. China's steady diplomacy is a sign of how much things have changed in the country, which has long avoided most international affairs. Recently, China has begun to embrace regional and global institutions it once shunned and take on the responsibilities that come with great-power status. Just what the results of Beijing's new sophistication will be remains to be seen; but Asia, and the world, will never be the same.
China has achieved stunning economic progress since the 1970s, thanks to aggressive liberalization, a commitment to exporting high-tech goods, and a massive injection of foreign investment. Although this unprecedented success is understandably unnerving to China's neighbors and trading partners, it should not be cause for worry; China, the United States, and the rest of the world still have lots of business to do.
The radical Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah is fomenting violence in post-war Iraq and fanning the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its bloody track record makes it a natural target in the war on terror. But Washington's only option is to confront Hezbollah indirectly: by getting its backers, Syria and Iran, to help change its focus from militancy to politics.
During the Cold War, the ever-present Soviet threat helped keep the West united. More recently, however, attempts to mend the transatlantic rift by pointing to present dangers have only deepened the cultural divide. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic must accept that "the West" has now split into European and American halves. But both sides still need each other -- now more than ever.
Ever since World War II, the slightest sign of nationalism in Japan has been widely denounced, at home and abroad. Recently, however, discussions that were once taboo -- including whether to rearm or even develop nuclear weapons -- have moved into the Japanese mainstream. Yet the country's critics need not be alarmed; a little healthy nationalism may be just what Japan, with its faltering economy, needs most.
The United States increasingly looks, walks, and talks like an empire. It should therefore heed the lessons of its predecessors, exercising strong and determined global leadership. At the same time, it must avoid the temptation to meddle when American interests are not at stake. This means, among other things, dropping the doctrine of universal democracy promotion.
The emerging global market in natural gas has the potential to meet rising demand for electricity worldwide. The United States' own gas supplies are dwindling, but elsewhere vast, unexploited resources are becoming ever more accessible now that gas can be liquefied, shipped, and used efficiently. New energy linkages will create new risks, but none that cannot be managed through proper diversification.
The international adoption trade is booming, as more families in the West adopt more babies from developing countries. But it has spawned a sordid black market as well, in which children are bought or abducted and sold. The best way to stop the trafficking is not to ban adoptions from countries that tolerate corrupt rings, but to strengthen the underdeveloped multilateral legal regime that regulates adoptions around the planet.
Conventional wisdom holds that Bill Clinton presided over a disastrous downsizing of the U.S. military. But this claim is wrong. In fact, Clinton's Pentagon maintained high levels of readiness and enacted a bold military modernization program that bore fruit in Bosnia and Kosovo -- and in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reviews & Responses
Two Israeli studies of the polarizing Palestinian leader don't shed much light on their subject. But they do make clear why his time may be past.
Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay take stock of the Bush revolution in foreign affairs. The neocons have been running the show -- and we're all now paying the price.