Courtesy Reuters

FROM CONTAINMENT TO CONFUSION

Senior Clinton administration officials are quick to point out that one reason for their foreign policy difficulties is that the world they inherited is a more complex place than what came before. Although this explanation exaggerates the simplicity and clarity of the past half century -- the applicability of "containment" was hotly contested throughout the Cold War, especially during the wars in Korea and Vietnam -- it does contain a kernel of truth.

Global changes have undoubtedly complicated the conceiving and conducting of U.S. foreign policy. Ours is a period of "international deregulation," one in which there are new players, new capabilities, and new alignments -- but, as yet, no new rules. This international flux is compounded by political anxieties at home. The public is motivated by a pervasive sense that domestic problems warrant the bulk of America's energies. Extensive media coverage and scrutiny have

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  • Richard N. Haass, until recently Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is Director of National Security Programs for the Council on Foreign Relations. His latest book is Intervention: The Use of American Military Force in the Post-Cold War World.
  • More By Richard N. Haass