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The White House still avoids the label, but by any reasonable historical standard, the Iraqi civil war has begun. The record of past such wars suggests that Washington cannot stop this one -- and that Iraqis will be able to reach a power-sharing deal only after much more fighting, if then. The United States can help bring about a settlement eventually by balancing Iraqi factions from afar, but there is little it can do to avert bloodshed now.
To tame the growing power of Iran, Washington must eschew military options, the prospect of conditional talks, and attempts to contain the regime. Instead, it should adopt a new policy of détente. By offering the pragmatists in Tehran a chance to resume diplomatic and economic relations with the United States, it could help them sideline the radicals and tip Iran's internal balance of power in their favor.
Controversies over the war in Iraq and U.S. unilateralism have overshadowed a more pragmatic and multilateral component of the Bush administration's grand strategy: its attempt to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy and international institutions in order to account for shifts in the global distribution of power and the emergence of states such as China and India. This unheralded move is well intentioned and well advised, and Washington should redouble its efforts.
In 2007, Michael T. Osterholm wrote about the need to prepare for an influenza pandemic. Two years later, the song remains the same.
The Greater Horn of Africa, the hottest conflict zone in the world, is a legitimate concern of U.S. officials. But their overwhelming focus on stemming terrorism there is overshadowing U.S. initiatives to resolve conflicts and promote good governance -- with disastrous implications for regional stability and U.S. counterterrorism objectives themselves.
Shinzo Abe has had a tough act to follow since succeeding the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's prime minister. Abe has already shown himself to be adept in the field of foreign affairs, and Tokyo's influence is likely to increase with him at the helm. But it remains uncertain whether he can keep the momentum going on the reforms needed to stave off economic stagnation.
The Indian economy is booming -- but the boom will last only as long as the vagaries of Indian democratic politics allow it to. Democracy and market reform are uneasily aligned in India today, and the additional reforms necessary to raise the lot of India's poor masses -- who have enormous voting clout -- may not garner a popular mandate at the ballot box. Although a long-term asset, democracy could prove to be a short-term headache for India's reformers.
Even as Western commentators condemn the Muslim Brotherhood for its Islamism, radicals in the Middle East condemn it for rejecting jihad and embracing democracy. Such relative moderation offers Washington a notable opportunity for engagement -- as long as policymakers recognize the considerable variation between the group's different branches and tendencies.
The market for higher education, like others, is becoming increasingly globalized -- and dominated by U.S. institutions. But despite predictions that U.S.-based global universities will surge as geographic and disciplinary barriers come down, the era of the global "megaversity" may not quite be at hand.
The defense budget of the United States, the world's leading military power throughout the twentieth century, is not enough for the country to confront the threats of the twenty-first. It should be increased -- and can be without negatively affecting the economy. The money is available; it must be joined by political will.
Reviews & Responses
Kenneth Pyle's new book argues that a resurgence of Japan's power and purpose has Tokyo poised to play a bigger role on the international stage. Pyle is right, and it is a good thing for Washington and Asian security.
Margaret MacMillan's engaging narrative history shows how Nixon's trip to visit Mao helped end the Cold War. But neither leader anticipated how fast China would rise or how that rise would force the U.S.-Chinese relationship to evolve.