America's Economic Dependence

Courtesy Reuters

The coming decade will set the stage for the world of the 21st century. Will that world be chaotic or orderly? Will there be growth or stagnation? Will the United States be able to play the preeminent role that it played in this century? This is the context in which we must examine the present.

The ideological walls are crumbling all over the world. The basic national objectives in both the communist and the free worlds consist of sustained economic growth, greater competitiveness and higher standards of living. The global divisions that continue to exist, and that will become more and more serious, will be between haves and have-nots, rich and poor, competitive and inadequate. Such distinctions, however, will no longer be primarily ideological in source.

The most important event since the end of World War II is the recognition by the leaders of both the U.S.S.R and China that communism is not a viable system. While Soviet and Chinese reforms have been so far mostly limited to economics, they will inevitably spread to the political sphere. The Soviets and the Chinese have embarked on reform because their economies were collapsing, their citizens wanted a higher standard of living and their military wanted up-to-date technology and educated armed forces. But the underlying cause was that their system, in addition to being philosophically unacceptable, is inefficient and noncompetitive in the modern world. Until the end of this century and later, the U.S.S.R. and China will be dealing with their internal economic and social problems.

The evolution of Western Europe toward a unified market by 1992 is driven by similar broad objectives. President François Mitterrand's attempt to govern France with a classical socialist program came to a painful end in 1983. His successful reelection this past year was due, in good part, to his adoption of a moderate social democratic program geared to a market economy and aimed at global competitiveness. The same is true of left-wing governments

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