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Presidential elections rarely revolve around foreign policy. At the same time foreign policy issues are rarely absent as pivotal points in presidential campaign give-and-take. Narrow or broad, event-driven or character-motivated, questions of how Washington will deal with external threats or will shape America’s role in the world somehow surface in the build-up to presidential elections.

The grounds for an urgent examination of America’s role in the world are especially great. The end of the Cold War has thrown our existing assumptions and most of our traditional political divisions into turmoil. We have a new, key question: What does a superpower do in a world no longer dominated by superpower conflict? There is no obvious or easy answer, and a substantial and broad-based debate will be necessary before any kind of consensus can emerge.

Yet the climate for such a debate could not be worse. The question about what

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