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The G-20 has helped the world's economic leaders go from simply managing crises to making long-term improvements in the international economy. Now a new leaders' forum -- call it the L-20 -- could do something similar for political problems.
The Voice of America -- the United States' best tool of public diplomacy -- is being subjected to systematic cutbacks, even as the country's international image is suffering. Washington must reverse the trend or face even greater hostility abroad.
If the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri sought to make an example of him for his defiance of Syria, the aftermath of the crime has mocked them. For a generation, Lebanon was an appendage of Syrian power. But now the Lebanese people, in an "independence intifada," are clamoring for a return to normalcy. The old Arab edifice of power has survived many challenges in the past, but something is different this time: the United States is now willing to gamble on freedom.
To speak of dictatorship as being the immemorial way of doing things in the Middle East is simply untrue. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and lack of concern for the Arab future. Creating a democratic political and social order in Iraq or elsewhere in the region will not be easy. But it is possible, and there are increasing signs that it has already begun.
Despite widespread calls to rush to a final-status agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it would be a mistake to reach for so much so soon. The parties must first restore trust after four and a half years of violence, above all by making sure that Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip proceeds smoothly, leaving peace and security in its wake.
Dealing with today's threats requires broad, deep, and sustained global cooperation. Thus the states of the world must create a collective security system to prevent terrorism, strengthen nonproliferation, and bring peace to war-torn areas, while also promoting human rights, democracy, and development. And the UN must go through its most radical overhaul yet.
The next World Bank president will confront a nearly impossible challenge: saving the institution from a curious alliance of conservatives and radical activists that threatens to undercut its financial viability and effectiveness. Failure to head off the danger will mean the gradual decline of the best tool the world has for managing globalization, just when that tool is more needed than ever.
If ratified, the new EU constitution will change the way the union works. It cannot take effect unless approved by all 25 members, but in only one country -- the United Kingdom -- do polls show that a majority oppose the document. Still, a rejection there would throw Europe into a constitutional crisis. And it could ultimately harm transatlantic relations as well.
For a decade, the United States has exported its gang problem, sending Central American-born criminals back to their homelands -- without warning local governments. The result has been an explosive rise of vicious, transnational gangs that now threaten the stability of the region's fragile democracies. As Washington fiddles, the gangs are growing, spreading north into Mexico and back to the United States.
Once a leader in Internet innovation, the United States has fallen far behind Japan and other Asian states in deploying broadband and the latest mobile-phone technology. This lag will cost it dearly. By outdoing the United States, Japan and its neighbors are positioning themselves to be the first states to reap the benefits of the broadband era: economic growth, increased productivity, and a better quality of life.