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The United States' current account deficit and foreign debt are not dire threats to its global position, as would-be Cassandras warn. U.S. power is firmly grounded on economic superiority and financial stability that will not end soon.
With the EU's addition of ten new members and a likely slowdown in U.S. productivity growth, Europe has a chance to overtake the U.S. economy. To actually do so, however, it must boost its competitiveness with some much-needed reforms.
If Washington wants to derail Iran's nuclear program, it must take advantage of a split in Tehran between hard-liners, who care mostly about security, and pragmatists, who want to fix Iran's ailing economy. By promising strong rewards for compliance and severe penalties for defiance, Washington can strengthen the pragmatists' case that Tehran should choose butter over bombs.
The electoral triumph of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and the victory of the Ukrainian people over their country's corrupt leadership represent a new landmark in the postcommunist history of eastern Europe, a seismic shift Westward in the geopolitics of the region. But what will come next for the new president--and the rest of the former Soviet Union?
Although neither China nor Taiwan wants war, both pursue policies that raise the risk of bloodshed: the first by issuing vague warnings, the second by testing their limits. To stabilize the situation, the Bush administration should help broker a temporary agreement under which Taipei would put off independence and Beijing would stop threatening to attack.
Could globalization collapse? It may seem unlikely today. Yet despite many warnings, people were shocked the last time globalization crumbled, with the onslaught of World War I. Like today, that period was marked by imperial overstretch, great-power rivalry, unstable alliances, rogue regimes, and terrorist organizations. And the world is no better prepared for calamity now.
As a matter of policy, Washington is committed to supporting development in impoverished countries, and most Americans believe that it is following through. In fact, U.S. assistance for the world's poorest countries is utterly inadequate. Only a new international development strategy can rectify the situation. Continued failure will be too expensive, for the United States and the world.
If President Bush hopes to make good on his promise to bring democracy to the Arab world, he must rethink U.S. strategy, which overemphasizes civil society and economic development. Neither has caused much political liberalization in the Middle East, nor have more punitive measures. To promote Arab democracy, Washington needs a new approach: offering financial incentives for political reform.
The fighting in Iraq has exposed the limits of Donald Rumsfeld's transformation agenda. The U.S. military remains underprepared for dealing with guerrillas, and such unconventional threats will grow in coming years. The next stage of military transformation must focus on training large numbers of infantry for nation building and irregular warfare--and Washington must make that task a top priority.
Recent scandals in Iraq and elsewhere have shone unaccustomed light on an explosive trend: the growth of private military contractors. Such firms allow governments to accomplish public ends through private means and without much oversight. This lack of scrutiny may be expedient, but it is not necessarily good for democracy. Privatization can benefit everyone, but only if done in the right way.
Reviews & Responses
Letter to the EditorSteve Andreasen and Sidney Drell
Letter to the EditorCharles N. Dragonette
Letter to the EditorJonathan Willner