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Is China democratizing? The country's leaders do not think of democracy as people in the West generally do, but they are increasingly backing local elections, judicial independence, and oversight of Chinese Communist Party officials. How far China's liberalization will ultimately go and what Chinese politics will look like when it stops are open questions.
China's rise will inevitably bring the United States' unipolar moment to an end. But that does not necessarily mean a violent power struggle or the overthrow of the Western system. The U.S.-led international order can remain dominant even while integrating a more powerful China -- but only if Washington sets about strengthening that liberal order now.
Beijing has recently stepped back from its unconditional support for pariah states, such as Burma, North Korea, and Sudan. This means China may now be more likely to help the West manage the problems such states pose -- but only up to a point, because at heart China still favors nonintervention as a general policy.
Politicians in Washington are clamoring for currency revaluation in China to reverse China's trade surplus with the United States. But the trade imbalance is not the threat they make it out to be, and a stronger yuan is not the solution. Everybody should focus instead on properly integrating China into the global economy.
In this 2008 article, Michael McFaul, now U.S. ambassador to Russia, and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss describe the damage Vladimir Putin's authoritarianism has done to Russia's political and economic systems.
The Bush administration wants to contain Iran by rallying the support of Sunni Arab states and now sees Iran's containment as the heart of its Middle East policy: a way to stabilize Iraq, declaw Hezbollah, and restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. But the strategy is unsound and impractical, and it will probably further destabilize an already volatile region.
After the Cold War, NATO and the EU opened their doors to central and eastern Europe, making the continent safer and freer than ever before. Today, NATO and the EU must articulate a new rationale for enlarging still further, once again extending democracy and prosperity to the East, this time in the face of a more powerful and defiant Russia.
Global corporate citizenship means that companies must not only be engaged with stakeholders but be stakeholders themselves alongside governments and civil society. Since companies depend on global development, which in turn relies on stability and increased prosperity, it is in their direct interest to help improve the state of the world.
The massive growth of sovereign wealth funds -- pools of capital controlled by governments and invested in private markets abroad -- should not cause alarm. But it does raise legitimate questions for the United States, pointing to the need for new policy principles for both the funds and the countries in which they invest.
Nuclear terrorism poses a grave threat to global security, but seeking silver bullets to counter it does not make sense. Instead of pursuing a perfect defense, U.S. policymakers should create an integrated defensive system that takes advantage of the terrorists' weaknesses and disrupts their plots at every stage, thereby chipping away at their overall chances of success.
The United States needs a foreign policy that is based on reality and is loyal to American values. The next U.S. president needs to send a clear signal to the world that America has turned the corner and will once again be a leader rather than a unilateralist loner. Getting out of Iraq and restoring our reputation are necessary first steps toward a new strategy of U.S. global engagement and leadership.
The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. In particular, it should focus on eliminating Islamist terrorists, stabilizing Iraq, containing Iran, and toughening its stance with Pakistan.
Reviews & Responses
Letter to the EditorBing West
Letter to the EditorWilliam R. Polk
Letter to the EditorMiriam Pemberton
Letter to the EditorR. T. Curran
Letter to the EditorAra Chutjian
Letter to the EditorLeon V. Sigal