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In his first four years, George W. Bush presided over the most sweeping redesign of U.S. strategy since the days of F.D.R. Over the next four, his basic direction should remain the same: restoring security in a more dangerous world. Some midcourse corrections, however, are overdue. Washington should remember the art of speaking softly and the need for international legitimacy.
By losing the trust of the Iraqi people, the Bush administration has already lost the war. Moderate Iraqis can still win it, but only if they wean themselves from Washington and get support from elsewhere. To help them, the United States should reduce and ultimately eliminate its military presence, train Iraqis to beat the insurgency on their own, and rally Iran and European allies to the cause.
The best strategy for the United States now in Iraq is disengagement. In a reversal of the usual sequence, the U.S. hand will be strengthened by withdrawal, and Washington might actually be able to lay the groundwork for a reasonably stable Iraq. Why? Because geography ensures that all other parties are far more exposed to the dangers of an anarchical Iraq than is the United States itself.
Improving U.S. foreign economic policy after four years of neglect will require addressing a series of problems that, if left to fester, will have grave consequences for U.S. domestic interests and U.S. foreign policy as a whole. Above all, the second Bush administration must recognize that geopolitics and geoeconomics are deeply intertwined and must be managed accordingly.
The nuclear threat has been transformed since the end of the Cold War, but Washington's nuclear posture has not changed to meet it. The United States should scale back its arsenal while allowing limited nuclear tests, shaping its nuclear force to bolster nonproliferation without undermining deterrence.
The Middle East challenges facing Washington today have never been greater--but there remains a chance for peace. To secure it, the United States must stick with Iraq, pressure Iran into giving up its nukes, foster a moderate Palestinian leadership, and support Muslim reformers. Success in the region has never been more important.
Washington's system of Asian alliances may have worked during the Cold War, but it ignores today's political reality. Although the six-party talks now underway on North Korea's nukes were born of necessity, their format should be made permanent, so the White House can help reshape Asian diplomacy.
To repair the damaged transatlantic alliance, the second Bush administration must rediscover the values of Republican internationalism. Fortunately, the recent enlargement of NATO and the EU gives Washington a great chance to buttress the allies' economic ties, security strategy, and foreign policy.
Two years ago, Washington accused Pyongyang of running a secret nuclear weapons program. But how much evidence was there to back up the charge? A review of the facts shows that the Bush administration misrepresented and distorted the data--while ignoring the one real threat North Korea actually poses.
Since Slobodan Milosevic was sent to The Hague two years ago, the former Yugoslavia has dropped off the international radar. But the Balkans are far from secure: corruption runs rampant, economies are flat, and ethnic hatred continues to simmer. Worst of all, Kosovo remains a flashpoint that could re-ignite the region.
As western Sudan continues to suffer, much international attention has focused on whether to call what is happening there "genocide." Yet once the term was invoked, it did not trigger outside intervention. Terminology turns out to matter far less than was expected. And once more, the world has dithered while people die.
The turmoil caused by weak and failing states gravely threatens U.S. security, yet Washington is doing little to respond. The United States needs a new, comprehensive development strategy combining crisis prevention, rapid response, centralized decision-making, and international cooperation.
Reviews & Responses
Thinking of modern jihad as simply a cultural extension of Islam is a common, and unfortunate, mistake. Two new books by Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy offer better historical and sociological explanations, but they are only a start.
Renewed anxiety over a nuclear attack has prompted three new books on the threat and how to confront it. On one key point they all agree: the need to ensure that "peaceful" nuclear programs do not serve as a guise for less-than-peaceful intentions.
Letter to the EditorJolyon Howorth
Letter to the EditorNikolas K. Gvosdev
Letter to the EditorRobert B. Charles
Letter to the EditorJohn G. Heimann and Kathleen Jennings