FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

America's First Post-Cold War President

East German citizens climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the border was announced early November 9, 1989. Herbert Knosowski / Reuters

On the morning of November 4, 1992, the first person to be elected president of the United States since the end of the Cold War will awaken to a world remarkably unlike that following any presidential election in the last half century or more.

He will be the first president to start a four-year term without any need to worry seriously about this nation facing nuclear or even armed attack, the existence of another military superpower or a challenge from a hostile global ideology. He will be the first who can rely on a virtually veto-free Security Council in a more effective, respected United Nations. For the first time a worldwide community of nations under law will appear to be within our reach. He will be truly free, in short, to use his inaugural address to outline a new course in world affairs for America.

It will be a historic opportunity.

But along with that opportunity he will face challenges that his predecessors did not face—from the integration of western Europe and the disintegration of eastern Europe; from the spread of ethnic, tribal, religious and other micronationalist clashes that are undeterred by nuclear might and unresolved by free-market and free-election doctrines; and from the difficulties of converting to a less military-oriented economy without unacceptable dislocation.

With the Cold War out of the way the next president will be obliged to face long-deferred global problems, including population growth, food and water shortages and environmental hazards that in combination could create for the next generation of Americans a very ugly and perilous way of life. To an extent not shared by his modern predecessors he will face an anxious and inward-looking American public that generally feels neither generosity nor responsibility toward the plight of other peoples. He will find it more difficult to distinguish between friend and foe, now that the clear ideological colors of the Cold War are gone; to distinguish between real dangers and mere problems, now that all kinds of nonmilitary

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