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The failure to prevent the September 11, 2001, attacks or find Iraqi WMD have put intelligence at the center of this year's presidential campaign. The key to better performance, however, lies not in major reforms but in the character and sense of responsible officials.
Critics decry Vladimir Putin for turning Russia into a one-party state. But polls suggest that Russians actually approve of his actions by sizable majorities, caring little for core Western principles such as democratic liberties and civil rights.
The Bush administration may dismiss the relevance of soft power, but it does so at great peril. Success in the war on terrorism depends on Washington's capacity to persuade others without force, and that capacity is in dangerous decline.
According to the election-year bluster of politicians and pundits, the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries has become a problem of epic proportion. Fortunately, this alarmism is misguided. Outsourcing actually brings far more benefits than costs, both now and in the long run. If its critics succeed in provoking a new wave of American protectionism, the consequences will be disastrous -- for the U.S. economy and for the American workers they claim to defend.
Two and a half years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is once more lapsing into bloody chaos. Although President Hamid Karzai is strong on paper, he is weak in fact. The drug trade is surging, the Taliban are creeping back, and real power rests in the hands of the country's many warlords. Instead of disarming the militias, Washington is using them to hunt the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban. But ordinary Afghans are paying the price.
By stressing unilateralism over cooperation, preemption over prevention, and firepower over staying power, the Bush administration has alienated the United States' natural allies and disengaged from many of the world's most pressing problems. To restore U.S. global standing--which is essential in checking the spread of lethal weapons and winning the war on terrorism--the next Democratic president must recognize the obvious: that means are as important as ends.
Most people think overpopulation is one of the worst dangers facing the globe. In fact, the opposite is true. As countries get richer, their populations age and their birthrates plummet. And this is not just a problem of rich countries: the developing world is also getting older fast. Falling birthrates might seem beneficial, but the economic and social price is too steep to pay. The right policies could help turn the tide, but only if enacted before it's too late.
Backing women's rights in developing countries isn't just good ethics; it's also sound economics. Growth and living standards get a dramatic boost when women are given just a bit more education, political clout, and economic opportunity. So the United States should aggressively promote women's rights abroad. And by couching its case in economic terms, it might even overcome the resistance of conservative Muslim countries that have long balked at gender equality.
This election year may tempt both critics of the Bush administration and hard-liners within it to attack U.S. policy on China. That would be a mistake, however, for engaging Beijing has worked well. Economic growth in China has spurred political liberalization, legal reform, opening of the media, and popular activism. The Bush administration -- and those who aspire to replace it -- should not let electoral tactics jeopardize sound policy. With respect to China, that means staying the course.
The Bush administration has shrugged off the Syrian president's recent attempts at rapprochement with the West. It should think again. With Syria's old ally Saddam Hussein gone, Damascus is trapped in a strategic quandary that makes it highly receptive to coercive diplomacy--of the kind that worked on Libya. And by engaging Syria sooner rather than later, the United States could give the Middle East peace process a shove in the right direction.
Reviews & Responses
In Who Are We?, Samuel Huntington turns his formidable intellect to the challenges posed by immigration. Unfortunately, he has abandoned the clear-eyed realism of his past work in favor of disdainful moralism, whipping up nativist hysteria instead of offering real solutions.
Letter to the EditorGolfo Alexopoulos
Letter to the EditorF. Gregory Gause III
Letter to the EditorArthur J. Ammann