The Endless Fantasy of American Power
Neither Trump Nor Biden Aims to Demilitarize Foreign Policy
Is the U.S. in an irreversible decline as the world's premier power?
-- Time, October 15, 1992
The United States won the war against the "evil empire," but it is losing the battle against the forces of decline.
-- Le Monde, October 20, 1992, in the first of a 12-part series on America in eclipse
Victory over Saddam Hussein, although incomplete, masked temporarily America's declining economic power and dwindling interest in the rest of the world and postponed moves to fill the vacuum created by America's retrenchment and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
-- U.S. News & World Report, November 16, 1992
Bill Clinton was elected president at a moment of both triumph and uncertainty for America in the world. The triumphs of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf War will be long remembered. The memory of the uncertainty is already fading.
In 1992, the United States was widely seen as unlikely to sustain its global engagement in the absence of an overriding threat. It was lagging competitively. U.S. alliances were in jeopardy, with their missions undefined and with new threats -- from the Balkans to a nuclearizing North Korea -- being inadequately addressed. Japan and western Europe were considered increasingly likely to forge separate identities outside their alliances with America. U.S. foreign policy had barely come to grips with the emerging challenges of a globalized world, from the volatility of markets to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to the spread of disease.
For 50 years, America self-assuredly had defined its leadership in terms of what it was against. In the years immediately following the victory over communism, America defined its "post-Cold War" policy in terms of what was ending. The Clinton administration's task was to renew our leadership in terms of what we were building, while restoring the domestic vitality that enabled us to lead in the first place. Historians may debate the choices we made, but there is no disputing their cumulative outcome.
America today is by any measure the world's unchallenged military and economic power, having completed the first peacetime expansion of our global reach since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. The world counts on us to be a catalyst of coalitions, a broker of peace, a guarantor of global financial stability. We are widely seen as the country best placed to benefit from globalization.
Indeed, our success is so apparent to others that one of our biggest challenges now is to manage the resentment it sometimes generates. This we must do with sensitivity and care -- but also with perspective. After all, the same countries complaining today that America is a "hyperpower" were contemplating America's decline eight years ago. That, in my mind, is progress.
It did not come by accident. It happened because a president who believed America's strength abroad depends on our strength at home kept his promise to put our economic house in order, giving us the strength to lead and the credibility to lead by example. It happened because a president who shared his Cold War predecessors' internationalist philosophy fought to preserve our leadership in a radically different era, despite resistance to almost every international initiative that involved risk and cost.
With yesterday's road map obsolete, the big question we have faced repeatedly is how to use our renewed strength in a rapidly changing world.
President Clinton understood before most that the most pervasive force in our world is globalization. He also understood that, although globalization is inexorable, its benefits are not. It can expand access to technology that enriches life -- and technology that destroys it. It can equalize economic opportunity -- and accentuate economic disparity. It can make dictatorships more vulnerable to the spread of liberating ideas -- and democracies more vulnerable to the spread of terrorism, disease, and financial turmoil.
But globalization does have qualities that we can harness to advance our enduring objectives of democracy, shared prosperity, and peace. In this era, more and more nations are striving to join global networks of information, commerce, and cooperative security -- because their economic well-being and national survival increasingly depend on it. America in many ways is a gatekeeper of those networks, and thus we have influence over the choices nations make. Some of the world's most positive recent developments have occurred because of how we chose to use that influence, not because globalization preordained them.
For example, if China has begun to dismantle its command economy, despite the risk to its one-party state, it is not just meeting the abstract demands of global markets; it is fulfilling the terms we negotiated for its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). If people from Croatia to Bulgaria to Macedonia are rejecting hard-line nationalists and embracing democracy, it is not because they somehow have reached the end of history. They have reached the conclusion that this is the way to join NATO and the European Union (EU) -- an opportunity made possible by our concerted effort to expand NATO and made even more attractive by NATO's victory in Kosovo. If the people of Mexico have built a multiparty system, it is not because democracy is unstoppable in a "dot com" world. It is partly because our joint embrace of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) empowered Mexico's reformers to open their system, and because America's support for Mexico during its financial crisis gave reforms time to prevail.
It is not enough for us simply to open our markets, hook up the world to MTV, and hope that people beat their swords into shares on the NASDAQ. The way for America to exercise its influence today is to build with our democratic partners an international system of strong alliances and institutions attuned to the challenges of a globalized world. We must ensure that this system is genuinely open to all who adhere to clearly defined standards. And we must be ready to stand up for those standards when they are threatened.
Those are the broad outlines of a foreign policy for the global age. They can't be summed up on a bumper sticker. But they are reflected in the following principles that have guided the Clinton foreign policy and should guide his successor's:
1. America's alliances with Europe and Asia remain the cornerstone of its national security, but they must be constantly adapted to meet emerging challenges. That our alliances will endure is something we take for granted today; eight years ago, their survival was very much in doubt. This was true in Asia: Would we maintain a forward military presence there, and would our allies and friends continue to recognize its legitimacy? And it was particularly true in Europe, where NATO was stuck in its Cold War mission and makeup.
The Berlin Wall had fallen, yet NATO still treated the Iron Curtain as its eastern frontier; it seemed we would be allied with Europe's old democracies forever, but with its new democracies never. Central Europe feared becoming a "gray zone" of poverty and instability. Meanwhile, European security and the values NATO defends were threatened by an out-of-control war in the Balkans. Our European allies tried with good intentions to help the victims but found themselves shielding the victimizers. Shamefully, for the first time in 50 years, America claimed we had "no dog" in Europe's fight.
In both Europe and Asia, we broke new ground in 1993 by welcoming our allies' desire to play a more responsible role, whether through a stronger European role in NATO or the creation of the Regional Forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). But in both regions, we decided to maintain our troops and adapt our alliances. We formally updated our strategic alliance with Japan to define how we will respond together to post-Cold War threats. Following a period of recrimination and drift in the early 1990s, that alliance is now stronger than ever. Indeed, the stabilizing effect of our military presence in Asia now is recognized even by North Korea. In Europe, we revitalized NATO from a static Cold War alliance to a magnet for new democracies, with new partners, members, and missions.
Most important, we have backed with action our commitments to both regions. Doubts about America's commitment to Asian stability and security were erased by our decision to send aircraft carriers near the Taiwan Strait in 1996, and by our solidarity with South Korea in diminishing the North Korean nuclear threat and creating the conditions for eventual North-South dialogue. We proved our commitment to European security by leading NATO in its first military engagement, which stopped the killing in Bosnia, and leading an increasingly successful peacekeeping mission there. (Support for moderate and multiethnic parties has at least doubled in every part of Bosnia in the last three years.) Then, in Kosovo, we did what America should have done in Bosnia in 1992: We acted early enough to return the victims of ethnic cleansing to their homes in a way that protected southeastern Europe from wider catastrophe, preserved our relationship with Russia, and proved NATO could stay together during a sustained conflict.
Today, Europe is more peaceful, united, and democratic than at any time in history. Asia remains at peace despite continuing tensions. And our core alliances have been saved from irrelevance. They are arguably more durable now than during the Cold War, because they are clearly organized to advance a lasting set of shared interests, rather than to defeat a single threat.
The future challenge in Europe will be threefold: We must ensure that a strong EU -- including a strong European defense policy -- complements, not undermines, a strong transatlantic alliance. We must use our military presence to protect European security, which means, for now, maintaining a declining but still necessary force in the Balkans. And we must keep NATO's promise to admit capable new democracies to avoid new divisions and further disintegration in southeastern Europe.
In Asia, the challenges to our alliances are harder to predict. They could come in the form of a crisis in Korea or in the Taiwan Strait that will test our will. Ironically, they could also come in the form of success that will test our wisdom. Even if tensions ease in Asia's hot spots, we must maintain our alliances and military presence because their purpose is not just to respond to danger, but to be a balance wheel that prevents danger from arising.
2. Peace and security for the United States depend on building principled, constructive, clear-eyed relations with our former great-power adversaries. The question is, Can we do that simply by marking the boundaries of acceptable external conduct for nations such as Russia and China, or must we also seek to influence their internal development?
In fact, we must continue to be wary of threats to peace, whether a Russian move against Georgia or Chinese use of force against Taiwan, because the stability of entire regions and the viability of new democracies depend on it.
But the way these countries manage their challenges at home is just as important as the way they relate to the world. No event in the last half-century has done more to advance our security than Russia's democratic revolution. If both Russia and China become stable, pluralistic, prosperous societies, the world will be safer still. Moreover, the threat we face from our former adversaries lies as much in their internal weakness or retrogression as in their external strength. Russia may be unable to establish the rule of law or to control the flow of technology across its borders. China may fail to fulfill growing popular aspirations for accountability and openness, dooming economic reform and inviting internal upheaval and disintegration.
An effective way to minimize both external and internal dangers is to seize on the desire of both Russia and China to participate in the global economy and global institutions, insisting that they accept the obligations as well as the benefits of integration.
We have brought Russia into the G-8 group of leading industrialized nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group (APEC), into a relationship with NATO, and into close engagement with international financial institutions. Russia's interest in deeper integration helped us negotiate the exit of its troops from the Baltics, to bring its troops into NATO missions in the Balkans, and to win its active support for a just end to the war in Kosovo. We pressed successfully for Russian ratification of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II), disproving critics who said it could never happen if NATO stood by aspiring allies in central Europe and stuck to its guns in the Balkans. Because we have worked to help destroy and safeguard the old Soviet nuclear arsenal, the doomsday scenario of loose Russian nukes and scientists selling their services en masse to the highest bidder has not come to pass.
In the meantime, Russia has seen continued poverty, corruption, two cruel wars in Chechnya, and backsliding on protection of a free press. But nationalism and communism have not resurged, as many feared they would in 1993; in fact, Russians have repeatedly voted to keep pressing ahead. The privatization of the Russian economy, though deeply flawed, shattered the Soviet-era bureaucracy's hold on daily life. And outside support has bought Russia time, helping it conquer the agonizing bread lines, empty food shelves, and hyperinflation of 1993, and endure the transition from communism. Some Russian leaders may still be tempted to rebuild an all-powerful state, but today they face a country with 65,000 nongovernmental organizations, in which the state controls only 30 percent of the economy -- as opposed to 70 percent in 1993. Some may still try to hide hard truths from public view, but their efforts are now exposed by a vigorous, if still vulnerable, media. A generation from now, I doubt anyone will be saying we did too much to support Russia's transformation. They may say we did too little.
With China, our challenge has been to steer between the extremes of uncritical engagement and untenable confrontation. That balance has helped maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, secured China's help in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula, and brought China into many global nonproliferation regimes, by which it has largely abided. It has also allowed us to negotiate a deal to bring China into the WTO.
The WTO deal, along with the congressional passage of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), represents the most constructive breakthrough in U.S.-China relations since normalization in 1979. It will also bind China more closely to a rules-based international system and change the country internally. To enter the WTO, China must speed the demise of the state-run economy through which the Communist Party has wielded much of its power. The activism that produced more than 120,000 labor disputes in China last year will likely rise. And China's leaders will be forced to make hard choices about political reform.
To encourage them to make the right choices, we must keep saying plainly, as President Clinton has done repeatedly, that resistance to change puts China "on the wrong side of history." But we must also continue to integrate China into the global economy. Just as NAFTA membership eroded the economic base of one-party rule in Mexico, WTO membership, accompanied by external validation of the struggle for human rights, can help do the same in China.
3. Local conflicts can have global consequences. Like no president before him, Bill Clinton has dedicated the power and passion of his presidency to peacemaking. Like most presidents, he has had to contend with those who say America should do nothing about foreign conflicts unless we are directly threatened -- those who say, in effect, "If it's over there, it's not our fight."
We have worked for peace because we believe in defusing conflicts before, not after, they escalate and harm our vital interests. With that in mind, we have advanced a comprehensive peace in the Middle East -- with the Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement, the Israeli-Jordanian treaty, Wye, and a Camp David process that put fundamental issues on the table for the first time. We ended the Balkan wars of the 1990s, freeing Europe from a potentially permanent refugee crisis and source of conflict. We helped Turkey and Greece move further from confrontation than they have been in years. We helped pull nuclear-armed India and Pakistan from the brink of what might have been a catastrophic war in 1999. We have used diplomacy where possible, force where absolutely necessary, not pretending we can solve all the world's problems, but rejecting the idea that because we can't do everything, we must, for the sake of consistency, do nothing.
We also have worked for peace for reasons unique to our global age. First, regions endlessly mired in conflict are increasingly likely to become breeding grounds for extremism and terror, which spread even if the underlying conflicts do not. This is especially true in regions containing major fault lines of ethnicity, faith, or ideology, such as the Balkans and the Middle East.
Second, as globalization has raised the strategic cost of indifference to local conflict, it has also raised the moral cost. Americans and their leaders increasingly confront both the images of distant atrocities and the dilemma of how to respond. Today we can choose not to act, but we can no longer choose not to know. I believe that the United States should not send military forces into conflict where America's national interests are not at stake. And the reality is that we have not. (For all the talk about humanitarian intervention, the only instance where America has used force purely for humanitarian reasons was Somalia in 1992.) But when our interests and values are challenged, Americans expect their government to do what it reasonably can. Those who dismiss their idealism lack realism.
Finally, the disproportionate power America enjoys today is more likely to be accepted by other nations if we use it for something more than self-protection. It is fine to say Europeans should lead in the Balkans, Asians in East Timor, and Africans in Africa. But we are the only country capable of projecting power globally and often the only one with the impartial standing to mediate disputes. If we fail to support our friends and allies when they do take the lead, we will find ourselves alone when we need them. Indeed, nations will increasingly coalesce against us.
America's peacemaking has had the opposite effect. When a president goes the extra mile for peace in the Middle East or Ireland or South Asia or the Balkans, or flies, as President Clinton did in August, to join a fractious conference in Africa seeking peace in Burundi, where we have no strategic interests, it demolishes perceptions that an all-powerful America is an arrogant America. It earns us influence that raw power alone cannot purchase, while guarding against resentment that could erode our influence.
4. New dangers, accentuated by technological advances and the permeability of borders, require new national security priorities. For 50 years, we faced vertical proliferation: two nations piling their nuclear arsenals higher and higher. Today, we face horizontal proliferation, with arsenals at a lower level, but spread more pervasively. In response, President Clinton has brought sustained focus to nonproliferation -- a wise break from the past. Information about North Korea's nuclear weapons program, for example, had been available since the late 1980s, but little was achieved until we negotiated the Agreed Framework in 1994, which froze the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons in the North and verifiably has held ever since. The United States also took little notice of Iraq's 20-year development of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons until after the Gulf War. How many weapons of terror would Saddam have been left to build had he not invaded Kuwait?
Today, nonproliferation is and must be a central goal of U.S. foreign policy. For example, with unrelenting American engagement, China has joined and is complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological Weapons Convention, and the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). It has lived up to its 1998 commitment to the United States to provide no new assistance to Iran's nuclear program and has halted assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in Pakistan, although more remains to be done. Nonproliferation has also been a centerpiece of our engagement with Russia and its neighbors, leading to the denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; the elimination of hundreds of tons of nuclear materials; tighter controls to prevent smuggling; and an intensified, if still inadequate, effort to halt the transfer of weapons technologies to Iran. We also have worked to strengthen global nonproliferation regimes because clear standards of international conduct help us mobilize global pressure against threatening behavior. Some people apparently believe that America should not join any treaty that others embrace. Fortunately, we overcame that sentiment to ratify the CWC and to renew the NPT. The next president must work with the Senate to do the same with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Reflecting the new security agenda, we have mobilized greater internal and international resources to fight terrorism. This effort helped us bring to justice the perpetrators of the World Trade Center bombing and the killings outside CIA headquarters, and to work with Jordan to foil planned attacks against millennium celebrations. We crafted the first national strategy to protect America's computer systems and critical infrastructure against sabotage and are working with local emergency and health providers to deal more promptly with biological and chemical weapons threats.
In a generation, we may remember the clarion call to reverse climate change as a critical turning point in U.S. foreign policy. The conviction that economic growth and environmental protection are compatible has not yet been universally accepted. Fortunately, it has more than a fighting chance, thanks to the insistent voices of President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. The next president must turn that conviction into a global consensus.
Finally, we have made the fight against deadly infectious diseases a national security priority. Some may think this goal stretches the definition of national security, but a problem that kills huge numbers, crosses borders, and threatens to destabilize whole regions is the very definition of a national security threat. Infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and aids are now responsible for one-quarter of all deaths in the world. In some African countries, aids has cut life expectancy by more than 30 years; in South Africa it is expected to reduce GDP by 17 percent in 10 years. These countries cannot survive such an onslaught. Without concerted efforts to fight the disease, aids could also ravage India, Russia, and China, where the warning signs already exist. So we have exponentially increased funding to bridge the global health divide and to stimulate the development of drugs and vaccines needed exclusively in poor countries. President Clinton made this issue a centerpiece of his last G-8 summit, but this challenge will call for even greater resources and attention in the future. To dismiss it as a "soft" issue is to be blind to hard realities.
5. Economic integration advances both our interests and our values but also accentuates the need to alleviate economic disparities. As the first president who has understood the global economy, Bill Clinton has led the greatest world trade expansion in history -- from $4 trillion to $6.6 trillion a year -- with the completion of the Uruguay Round, the creation of the WTO, and the approval of NAFTA and PNTR with China. Our decision to keep our markets open during the Asian financial crisis, despite the inevitable result of higher trade deficits, is partly responsible for the recovery of the Asian economy, which again is fueling global growth. On the other hand, the loss of fast-track authority for the president in negotiating trade treaties was one of the most devastating wounds of the last eight years. Although the president has advanced a partnership with Latin America, he now lacks the full authority to exercise the most vigorous U.S. leadership there. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the next president.
Our general success in opening trade has coincided with growing fears about trade, motivated in part by concerns about labor and environmental standards in the developing world. We have the most basic obligation under the universal principles of human rights not to be complicit in slavery and child labor. But we must also guard against the arrogance of privilege. More than one billion people in the world live on a dollar a day or less. Nothing keeps them poor more than barriers and subsidies in wealthy countries, which cost the developing world more than it gains from aid. That is why President Clinton fought to enact trade bills for the Caribbean and Africa, which will give Africa, for example, more liberal access to our market than Europe and Asia enjoy.
At the same time, those who believe open markets alone can lift poor nations from poverty are deceiving themselves. No nation can compete in the global economy if it is crippled by debt, disease, or inadequate education. And helping impoverished nations overcome these obstacles is more than a moral imperative. In a world that increasingly operates as an integrated economic zone, in which everyone increasingly knows how the other half lives, vast disparities between rich and poor will become more and more of a powder keg.
We have successfully pushed the g-8 nations to reduce the debts of the poorest countries by 70 percent, to start tackling the aids crisis, and to invest more in basic education. We have had less success in building a bipartisan consensus in the United States to provide a reasonable share of that help. Unless we recognize that what is pocket change for America can foster a sea change in the rest of the world, humanity will be bitterly and violently divided a generation from now.
The Clinton foreign policy has drawn a number of criticisms. Some have been serious and constructive. Others have been more persistent than thoughtful.
The most common and, in my view, mindless critique is that the president has advanced no single foreign policy doctrine or framework -- in other words, no successor to containment. I would take this argument more seriously if any one of its proponents actually articulated an all-embracing framework of his or her own. But the simple answer is that even the doctrine of containment was inadequate: It led us well in our dealings with the Soviet empire in Europe, but it led us astray in local struggles elsewhere. What we needed then and need now is not the lift of a driving slogan, but a clear understanding of the changing world and the right strategic objectives, which the president has consistently articulated.
Another cliche is that the Clinton foreign policy has been driven by politics -- an assertion that allows critics to avoid substantive arguments. Instead of addressing, for example, what would have happened to NATO had it excluded qualified European democracies because they were once, against their will, members of the Warsaw Pact, critics simply can reject NATO enlargement as a ploy to get Polish-American votes. Instead of confronting what might have happened to indispensable NATO unity in Kosovo had we pressed prematurely for a ground invasion, they can simply dismiss our strategy as a study in political caution. The truth is, a politically motivated president would not have bailed out Mexico against overwhelming congressional and public opposition, fought relentlessly for one trade agreement after another against the opposition of much of his political party, persisted with a winning strategy in Kosovo discounted by conventional wisdom, approved sustained deployments of American troops in Bosnia, or invested so much in building relationships with Russia and China.
Then there are critics who say our ability to lead our alliances again is at risk, pointing to a loss of French support in the Persian Gulf or to complaints about U.S. "hegemony" in Europe and Asia. These critics have a short and selective memory. Our relationship with Europe has always been a bit schizophrenic: we are either dominating or disengaged. Consider these news headlines: "Allies Complain of Washington's Heavy Hand," "France to NATO: Non, Merci," "U.S. Declares Economic Warfare on Allies," "Protestors Rally Against American Arms Plan." The first is from the Suez crisis in 1956. The second is from 1966, when France left NATO's military command. The third is from the Siberian pipeline crisis of 1981. And the fourth is from the 1986 debate about deploying intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
Our alliances are in better shape today than they were during the Cold War. An expanding NATO has renewed purpose; the coalition we led in Bosnia was the broadest in European history; and the coalition in Kosovo held through the longest military engagement in NATO's history. We led a coalition into Haiti that helped spur an unparalleled degree of cooperation among Western nations to defend democracy where it is threatened. We worked with our Asian and Pacific allies to mobilize an unprecedented coalition to intervene in East Timor -- something unthinkable a few years ago. After 50 years of estrangement, we engendered a historic thaw in relations with India -- not a formal ally, but as the world's largest democracy, a natural one. In a recent poll, a remarkable 91 percent of urban Indians called relations with the United States good or better, a vast change in attitudes. President Clinton also moved our relationship with the countries of Africa to one of genuine mutual respect, traveling to that continent more than any president in history and changing African perceptions of the United States.
Because the president has consciously sought to mark the triumph of American ideals without triumphalism, the dominant view of America is one of a country that exercises leadership for the greater good. Opinion surveys, for example, show that the proportion of Europeans disturbed by America's growing power ranges from just 17 percent in France to 8 percent in Germany and Britain. With continued care, that attitude will endure.
What fundamental questions will the next administration face? Some are self-evident extensions of questions we have already faced: how to influence Russia and China, consolidate peace in the Balkans and the Middle East, preserve our alliances, promote economic development. A few are less obvious or merit special mention.
For example, will the roots of democracy's post-Cold War expansion deepen with time or wither under corruption, inequity, and poor governance? Even in 1999, more people around the world won the right to choose their leaders than in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell. But if new democracies don't deliver in such countries as Nigeria, Indonesia, and Ukraine, and if old democracies fail in countries such as Colombia, the pendulum that has swung toward freedom from Latin America to Asia to Africa to the former Soviet Union could swing back. Winning democracy's post-election contests requires our full attention and support.
A second question is how to promote change in those nations that have been most hostile to the United States over the last decade, and how to manage that change when it comes. That question applies to Iran and to Cuba; with both countries, we must be unafraid to advance openness without being naive about how far either has come.
The question also applies to North Korea, which, thanks to the U.S.-South Korean policy of deterrence and diplomatic engagement, and the failures caused by isolation, may be rethinking its policy of confrontation. We hope that the North will gradually open until the massive task of reunification becomes manageable. But few totalitarian regimes have peacefully, smoothly, and gradually transformed into stable and open societies. And North Korea is the most perfectly constituted totalitarian society on the planet. What will happen when its people gain knowledge of the outside world and when its leadership begins to feel threatened by change? The policy we have pursued with South Korea offers the best framework for encouraging peaceful change while dealing with the military threat that remains. But we must be ready for potential crises down the road.
With Iraq, our policy has achieved its immediate goals. We have contained Saddam and prevented his rearmament, diverting 90 percent of his oil revenues from the production of nuclear weapons and anthrax to the purchase of food and medicine. In 1989, Iraq earned $15 billion from oil exports and spent $13 billion on its military. This year, it is projected to earn $20 billion from oil-for-food exports but can spend none of these revenues on its military. But support for the policy cannot be sustained indefinitely, and Saddam will not be around forever. We need to intensify both our planning for a post-Saddam Iraq and our efforts to speed its arrival.
A third question is how to deal with both supernational and subnational threats to our security. A particularly troubling supernational threat is the growing globalization of grievance networks, including the transnational network of terror groups active from South and Central Asia to southern Russia to the Middle East and Africa. Coordination among these groups, which share a messianic hatred of open, tolerant societies, makes them a particular threat. But because they are loosely connected, they cannot be extinguished with one stroke. The solution is to reduce the economic disparities on which they breed; to resolve the Middle East conflict in order to delegitimize their grievances; and to beef up counterterrorism cooperation even further, without assaulting civil liberties.
The subnational threat is the challenge to the nation-state from the potential disintegration of ethnically diverse societies, whether Nigeria and Indonesia today, or Russia and China tomorrow. How do we balance legitimate demands for self-determination against the danger of unleashing new grievances? In part, as the president has often noted, we must all recognize that in this new global economy, diversity can be a strength, a source of economic connectivity and therefore wealth, and that states and regions preoccupied by internecine conflicts will be left further behind. In part, the solution is integration among ethnically diverse states so that boundaries are less onerous -- the experience of western Europe after World War II and the goal of the Balkan Stability Pact in southeastern Europe. In the short run, we need better international tools for maintaining peace in divided societies.
Which leads to a fourth question: How do we reconcile the growing need for global collective action with the inadequacies of our principal instrument of collective action, the United Nations? U.N. reform has made progress these last few years, but the Clinton administration has had to spend most of those years simply struggling to restore our dues payments. The next administration must help reinvent the U.N. into the kind of institution we would design today. And it must overcome American suspicion of the U.N. by arguing that an effective U.N. gives us options beyond putting out global fires alone and letting them burn.
A fifth question is how we should adapt our military to new challenges. The issue is not whether we must maintain the best-trained, best-equipped, most ready military in the world. We have and we will. The real issue is how to match the capabilities of our armed forces to their missions. How can we ensure that our forces are simultaneously prepared for high-intensity conflicts and smaller-scale peace operations that require special skills and different rules of engagement? Each service is responding with its own transformation plan. The next president will have to build on those efforts.
The most fundamental question of all is whether we can continue to sustain America's leadership role in the world. The answer is yes, if we devote adequate resources to the task and convince other nations that their interests are served by joining us.
America cannot be a first-rate power on a third-class budget. We should not have to struggle to fund patently vital programs like our effort to secure nuclear materials in Russia. We should not have to respond to pressing needs in one part of the world by robbing money from pressing needs somewhere else. This damages our ability to lead. It is hard to explain to the Japanese, for example, why we can't fund our $35 million share to help denuclearize North Korea (to which they have contributed $1 billion) when they read of our $2 trillion surplus. Some people argue we spend too much on foreign aid, yet America's entire budget for everything from diminishing the nuclear threat to preventing conflict to fighting aids to advancing democracy costs no more (at $14 billion) than what Americans spend each year on dietary supplements.
Finally, we must squarely confront the sense among some that we can maintain our position either by diminishing our role in the world or by imposing our will on it. What threatens to alienate our allies today is not that we are wealthy and powerful, but that despite our wealth and power we do not meet our obligations to the U.N., or fully fund our commitment to the development banks, or devote as much of our GDP to the reduction of global poverty as do 16 countries not as wealthy as us, or ratify treaties we urge others to adopt. It is not that we consider initiatives to defend our soil from missile threats or terrorism, but that we sometimes seem to suggest they are the sum total of our approach to the world -- that we'd rather fence ourselves off from a dangerous world than work with others to improve it. We should not apologize for being a "hyperpower." But to remain strong, we must be a hyperpower that our friends and allies can depend on.
We must remember that there is a difference between power and authority. Power is the ability to compel by force and sanctions; there are times we must use it, for there will always be interests and values worth fighting for. Authority is the ability to lead, and we depend on it for almost everything we try to achieve. Our authority is built on qualities very different from our power: on the attractiveness of our values, on the force of our example, on the credibility of our commitments, and on our willingness to listen to and stand by others. There may be no real threat to our power today. But if we use power in a way that antagonizes our friends and dishonors our commitments, we will lose our authority -- and our power will mean very little.
In the last eight years, the United States has revitalized its alliances, begun to integrate its former adversaries into the international system, brought peace to regions critical to its security, adapted its global strategy to meet new challenges, and built the most open, dynamic world economy in history. But I believe President Clinton's most fundamental achievement is that he steered America from the Cold War era to the era of globalization in a way that enhanced not only our power but also our authority. That is the foundation on which we must advance our interests in a global age.