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The battlefield victory in Iraq obscured what the occupation has since made clear: the U.S. military's personnel system--especially the size of its active-duty Army and the number of crucial units kept in the reserves--desperately needs updating.
The war on terror has bound Israel and the United States closer together. But it has also deepened the rift between them and Arab and Muslim countries that rally behind the Palestinians. Peace in the Middle East has never seemed more elusive.
Georgia's recent, peaceful revolutions might allow the country to become a beacon of hope for a troubled region. For that to happen, however, its new leaders must find a way to deal with local secessionists, as well as with Moscow and Washington.
Conventional wisdom in the West says that post-Cold War Russia has been a disastrous failure. The facts say otherwise. Aspects of Russia's performance over the last decade may have been disappointing, but the notion that the country has gone through an economic cataclysm and political relapse is wrong--more a comment on overblown expectations than on Russia's actual experience. Compared to other countries at a similar level of economic and political development, Russia looks more the norm than the exception.
George W. Bush was right to rebuke Taiwan's president over his plans for a referendum on relations with China. Administration critics assume that democracy and independence are inseparable, that the "one China" principle is no longer useful, and that China would never go to war over Taiwan. But they are wrong on all three counts and fail to appreciate the dangers that may lie ahead.
Israelis and Palestinians must be separated for the Middle East to achieve some semblance of peace. At this point, that will take a fence. The good news is that Israel is already building a sensible barrier. The bad news is that the Sharon government may construct it in a way that spurs future conflict rather than ends it. The United States thus needs to step in to make sure that the right kind of fence gets built, in the right place--or else both sides will face more fighting in the future.
Europeans accuse the United States of acting like a bully: aggressive, self-interested, and disrespectful of rules. That charge is hypocritical. Still, it must be taken seriously, for as a liberal democracy with a global vision, the United States needs the approval of other nations that share its ideals. The American project is in Europe's interest, too--whether the Europeans understand that or not.
Even in a time of terrorism and war, no successful foreign policy can neglect the global economy. The next U.S. administration will therefore need to balance the country's books, liberalize trade, and reduce its reliance on foreign energy. Above all, Washington must shore up domestic and foreign support for globalization, so that it can continue to benefit the United States and the rest of the world.
U.S. special forces are enjoying unprecedented fame--and not just thanks to their exploits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to use them for secret antiterror missions around the globe. But that could endanger all Americans in uniform and let the Pentagon run covert operations without proper oversight. Congress must ensure that someone guards the guardians.
Precision air weapons have revolutionized modern warfare, but not by making it easier to kill enemy leaders. Decapitation alone still doesn't work; wars are still won by pummeling troops in the field. The new weaponry makes it easier to hammer the enemy's forces from the air--but only when they are kept in place by ground forces.
The Bush administration has hijacked a once-proud progressive doctrine--liberal internationalism--to justify muscle-flexing militarism and arrogant unilateralism. Progressives must reclaim the legacy of Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy with a foreign policy that will both bolster U.S. power and unite the world behind it.
Reviews & Responses
From Washington to Baghdad, the debate over American empire is back. Five new books weigh in, some celebrating the imperial project as the last best hope of humankind, others attacking it as cause for worry. What they all fail to understand is that U.S. power is neither as great as most claim nor as dangerous as others fear.