link to Prof. Stein's home page [has complete list of web pages]
link to ISS 325 War and Revolution syllabus
email: email@example.com Spring 2003
ISS 325 War & Revolution pages:
*link to READINGS-1 page
link to READINGS-2 page
link to READINGS-3 page ISS 325 SECTION 6
WAR AND REVOLUTION
Hyperpower READING GROUP 1 -- readings 1 & 3-10
for Test 1 on 3 February 2004
table of contents
READING #1 #Kaplan
Robert D. Kaplan. THE COMING ANARCHY: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease Are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet. The Atlantic Monthly, Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
READING #3 #Fukuyama
Francis Fukuyama. ARE WE AT THE END OF HISTORY?Fortune, Jan 15, 1990 v121 n2 p75(3)
READING #4 #Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington. THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS?Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993 v72 n3 p22(28)
READING #5 #Ajami
Fouad Ajami. THE SUMMONING. (RESPONSES TO SAMUEL P. HUNTINGTON'S "THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS?") Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct 1993 v72 n4 p2(8)
READING #6 #Luttwak #6
Edward N. Luttwak. WHERE ARE THE GREAT POWERS? At home with the kids. (military policy) Foreign Affairs, July-August 1994 v73 n4 p23(6)
READING #7 #Maynes
Charles William Maynes. RELEARNING INTERVENTION. (military intervention) Foreign Policy, Spring 1995 n98 p96(18)
Reading #8 #Nye
Joseph S. Nye. Jr. REDEFINING THE NATIONAL INTEREST.
Foreign Affairs, July-August 1999 v78 i4 p22
Reading #9 #hirsh
Michael Hirsh Bush and the World Foreign Affairs, September/October 2002
Reading # 10 #pollack
Kenneth M. Pollack Next Stop Baghdad? Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002
Brief Summary: The crime and lawlessness of West Africa is a model of what future life could become everywhere as demographic, environmental, health and social problems increase. The threats of scarce resources, cultural conflicts, overpopulation and war are discussed.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT Atlantic Monthly Company 1994
How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet
The Minister's eyes were like egg yolks, an aftereffect of some of the many illnesses, malaria especially, endemic in his country. There was also an irrefutable sadness in his eyes. He spoke in a slow and creaking voice, the voice of hope about to expire. Flame trees, coconut palms, and a ballpoint-blue Atlantic composed the background. None of it seemed beautiful, though. "In forty-five years I have never seen things so bad. We did not manage ourselves well after the British departed. But what we have now is something worse--the revenge of the poor, of the social failures, of the people least able to bring up children in a modern society." Then he referred to the recent coup in the West African country Sierra Leone. "The boys who took power in Sierra Leone come from houses like this." The Minister jabbed his finger at a corrugated metal shack teeming with children. "In three months these boys confiscated all the official Mercedes, Volvos, and BMWs and willfully wrecked them on the road." The Minister mentioned one of the coup's leaders, Solomon Anthony Joseph Musa, who shot the people who had paid for his schooling, "in order to erase the humiliation and mitigate the power his middle-class sponsors held over him."
Tyranny is nothing new in Sierra Leone or in the rest of West Africa. But it is now part and parcel of an increasing lawlessness that is far more significant than any coup, rebel incursion, or episodic experiment in democracy. Crime was what my friend--a top-ranking African official whose life would be threatened were I to identify him more precisely--really wanted to talk about. Crime is what makes West Africa a natural point of departure for my report on what the political character of our planet is likely to be in the twenty-first century.
The cities of West Africa at night are some of the unsafest places in the world. Streets are unlit; the police often lack gasoline for their vehicles; armed burglars, carjackers, and muggers proliferate. "The government in Sierra Leone has no writ after dark," says a foreign resident, shrugging. When I was in the capital, Freetown, last September, eight men armed with AK-47s broke into the house of an American man. They tied him up and stole everything of value. Forget Miami: direct flights between the United States and the Murtala Muhammed Airport, in neighboring Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, have been suspended by order of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation because of ineffective security at the terminal and its environs. A State Department report cited the airport for "extortion by law-enforcement and immigration officials." This is one of the few times that the U.S. government has embargoed a foreign airport for reasons that are linked purely to crime. In Abidjan, effectively the capital of the Cote d'Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, restaurants have stick- and gun-wielding guards who walk you the fifteen feet or so between your car and the entrance, giving you an eerie taste of what American cities might be like in the future. An Italian ambassador was killed by gunfire when robbers invaded an Abidjan restaurant. The family of the Nigerian ambassador was tied up and robbed at gunpoint in the ambassador's residence. After university students in the Ivory Coast caught bandits who had been plaguing their dorms, they executed them by hanging tires around their necks and setting the tires on fire. In one instance Ivorian policemen stood by and watched the "necklacings," afraid to intervene. Each time I went to the Abidjan bus terminal, groups of young men with restless, scanning eyes surrounded my taxi, putting their hands all over the windows, demanding "tips" for carrying my luggage even though I had only a rucksack. In cities in six West African countries I saw similar young men everywhere--hordes of them. They were like loose molecules in a very unstable social fluid, a fluid that was clearly on the verge of igniting.
"You see," my friend the Minister told me, "in the villages of Africa it is perfectly natural to feed at any table and lodge in any hut. But in the cities this communal existence no longer holds. You must pay for lodging and be invited for food. When young men find out that their relations cannot put them up, they become lost. They join other migrants and slip gradually into the criminal process."
"In the poor quarters of Arab North Africa," he continued, "there is much less crime, because Islam provides a social anchor: of education and indoctrination. Here in West Africa we have a lot of superficial Islam and superficial Christianity. Western religion is undermined by animist beliefs not suitable to a moral society, because they are based on irrational spirit power. Here spirits are used to wreak vengeance by one person against another, or one group against another." Many of the atrocities in the Liberian civil war have been tied to belief in juju spirits, and the BBC has reported, in its magazine Focus on Africa, that in the civil fighting in adjacent Sierra Leone, rebels were said to have "a young woman with them who would go to the front naked, always walking backwards and looking in a mirror to see where she was going. This made her invisible, so that she could cross to the army's positions and there bury charms . . . to improve the rebels' chances of success."
Finally my friend the Minister mentioned polygamy. Designed for a pastoral way of life, polygamy continues to thrive in sub-Saharan Africa even though it is increasingly uncommon in Arab North Africa. Most youths I met on the road in West Africa told me that they were from "extended" families, with a mother in one place and a father in another. Translated to an urban environment, loose family structures are largely responsible for the world's highest birth rates and the explosion of the HIV virus on the continent. Like the communalism and animism, they provide a weak shield against the corrosive social effects of life in cities. In those cities African culture is being redefined while desertification and deforestation--also tied to overpopulation--drive more and more African peasants out of the countryside.
A Premonition of the Future
West Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide demographic, environmental, and societal stress, in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real "strategic" danger. Disease, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of resources, refugee migrations, the increasing erosion of nation-states and international borders, and the empowerment of private armies, security firms, and international drug cartels are now most tellingly demonstrated through a West African prism. West Africa provides an appropriate introduction to the issues, often extremely unpleasant to discuss, that will soon confront our civilization. To remap the political earth the way it will be a few decades hence--as I intend to do in this article--I find I must begin with West Africa.
There is no other place on the planet where political maps are so deceptive--where, in fact, they tell such lies--as in West Africa. Start with Sierra Leone. According to the map, it is a nation-state of defined borders, with a government in control of its territory. In truth the Sierra Leonian government, run by a twenty-seven-year-old army captain, Valentine Strasser, controls Freetown by day and by day also controls part of the rural interior. In the government's territory the national army is an unruly rabble threatening drivers and passengers at most checkpoints. In the other part of the country units of two separate armies from the war in Liberia have taken up residence, as has an army of Sierra Leonian rebels. The government force fighting the rebels is full of renegade commanders who have aligned themselves with disaffected village chiefs. A pre-modern formlessness governs the battlefield, evoking the wars in medieval Europe prior to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ushered in the era of organized nation-states.
As a consequence, roughly 400,000 Sierra Leonians are internally displaced, 280,000 more have fled to neighboring Guinea, and another 100,000 have fled to Liberia, even as 400,000 Liberians have fled to Sierra Leone. The third largest city in Sierra Leone, Gondama, is a displaced-persons camp. With an additional 600,000 Liberians in Guinea and 250,000 in the Ivory Coast, the borders dividing these four countries have become largely meaningless. Even in quiet zones none of the governments except the Ivory Coast's maintains the schools, bridges, roads, and police forces in a manner necessary for functional sovereignty. The Koranko ethnic group in northeastern Sierra Leone does all its trading in Guinea. Sierra Leonian diamonds are more likely to be sold in Liberia than in Freetown. In the eastern provinces of Sierra Leone you can buy Liberian beer but not the local brand.
In Sierra Leone, as in Guinea, as in the Ivory Coast, as in Ghana, most of the primary rain forest and the secondary bush is being destroyed at an alarming rate. I saw convoys of trucks bearing majestic hardwood trunks to coastal ports. When Sierra Leone achieved its independence, in 1961, as much as 60 percent of the country was primary rain forest. Now six percent is. In the Ivory Coast the proportion has fallen from 38 percent to eight percent. The deforestation has led to soil erosion, which has led to more flooding and more mosquitoes. Virtually everyone in the West African interior has some form of malaria.
Sierra Leone is a microcosm of what is occurring, albeit in a more tempered and gradual manner, throughout West Africa and much of the underdeveloped world: the withering away of central governments, the rise of tribal and regional domains, the unchecked spread of disease, and the growing pervasiveness of war. West Africa is reverting to the Africa of the Victorian atlas. It consists now of a series of coastal trading posts, such as Freetown and Conakry, and an interior that, owing to violence, volatility, and disease, is again becoming, as Graham Greene once observed, "blank" and "unexplored." However, whereas Greene's vision implies a certain romance, as in the somnolent and charmingly seedy Freetown of his celebrated novel The Heart of the Matter, it is Thomas Malthus, the philosopher of demographic doomsday, who is now the prophet of West Africa's future. And West Africa's future, eventually, will also be that of most of the rest of the world.
Consider "Chicago." I refer not to Chicago, Illinois, but to a slum district of Abidjan, which the young toughs in the area have named after the American city. ("Washington" is another poor section of Abidjan.) Although Sierra Leone is widely regarded as beyond salvage, the Ivory Coast has been considered an African success story, and Abidjan has been called "the Paris of West Africa." Success, however, was built on two artificial factors: the high price of cocoa, of which the Ivory Coast is the world's leading producer, and the talents of a French expatriate community, whose members have helped run the government and the private sector. The expanding cocoa economy made the Ivory Coast a magnet for migrant workers from all over West Africa: between a third and a half of the country's population is now non-Ivorian, and the figure could be as high as 75 percent in Abidjan. During the 1980s cocoa prices fell and the French began to leave. The skyscrapers of the Paris of West Africa are a facade. Perhaps 15 percent of Abidjan's population of three million people live in shantytowns like Chicago and Washington, and the vast majority live in places that are not much better. Not all of these places appear on any of the readily available maps. This is another indication of how political maps are the products of tired conventional wisdom and, in the Ivory Coast's case, of an elite that will ultimately be forced to relinquish power.
Chicago, like more and more of Abidjan, is a slum in the bush: a checkerwork of corrugated zinc roofs and walls made of cardboard and black plastic wrap. It is located in a gully teeming with coconut palms and oil palms, and is ravaged by flooding. Few residents have easy access to electricity, a sewage system, or a clean water supply. The crumbly red laterite earth crawls with foot-long lizards both inside and outside the shacks. Children defecate in a stream filled with garbage and pigs, droning with malarial mosquitoes. In this stream women do the washing. Young unemployed men spend their time drinking beer, palm wine, and gin while gambling on pinball games constructed out of rotting wood and rusty nails. These are the same youths who rob houses in more prosperous Ivorian neighborhoods at night. One man I met, Damba Tesele, came to Chicago from Burkina Faso in 1963. A cook by profession, he has four wives and thirty-two children, not one of whom has made it to high school. He has seen his shanty community destroyed by municipal authorities seven times since coming to the area. Each time he and his neighbors rebuild. Chicago is the latest incarnation.
Fifty-five percent of the Ivory Coast's population is urban, and the proportion is expected to reach 62 percent by 2000. The yearly net population growth is 3.6 percent. This means that the Ivory Coast's 13.5 million people will become 39 million by 2025, when much of the population will consist of urbanized peasants like those of Chicago. But don't count on the Ivory Coast's still existing then. Chicago, which is more indicative of Africa's and the Third World's demographic present--and even more of the future--than any idyllic junglescape of women balancing earthen jugs on their heads, illustrates why the Ivory Coast, once a model of Third World success, is becoming a case study in Third World catastrophe.
President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who died last December at the age of about ninety, left behind a weak cluster of political parties and a leaden bureaucracy that discourages foreign investment. Because the military is small and the non-Ivorian population large, there is neither an obvious force to maintain order nor a sense of nationhood that would lessen the need for such enforcement. The economy has been shrinking since the mid-1980s. Though the French are working assiduously to preserve stability, the Ivory Coast faces a possibility worse than a coup: an anarchic implosion of criminal violence--an urbanized version of what has already happened in Somalia. Or it may become an African Yugoslavia, but one without mini-states to replace the whole.
Because the demographic reality of West Africa is a countryside draining into dense slums by the coast, ultimately the region's rulers will come to reflect the values of these shanty-towns. There are signs of this already in Sierra Leone--and in Togo, where the dictator Etienne Eyadema, in power since 1967, was nearly toppled in 1991, not by democrats but by thousands of youths whom the London-based magazine West Africa described as "Soweto-like stone-throwing adolescents." Their behavior may herald a regime more brutal than Eyadema's repressive one.
The fragility of these West African "countries" impressed itself on me when I took a series of bush taxis along the Gulf of Guinea, from the Togolese capital of Lome, across Ghana, to Abidjan. The 400-mile journey required two full days of driving, because of stops at two border crossings and an additional eleven customs stations, at each of which my fellow passengers had their bags searched. I had to change money twice and repeatedly fill in currency-declaration forms. I had to bribe a Togolese immigration official with the equivalent of eighteen dollars before he would agree to put an exit stamp on my passport. Nevertheless, smuggling across these borders is rampant. The London Observer has reported that in 1992 the equivalent of $856 million left West Africa for Europe in the form of "hot cash" assumed to be laundered drug money. International cartels have discovered the utility of weak, financially strapped West African regimes.
The more fictitious the actual sovereignty, the more severe border authorities seem to be in trying to prove otherwise. Getting visas for these states can be as hard as crossing their borders. The Washington embassies of Sierra Leone and Guinea--the two poorest nations on earth, according to a 1993 United Nations report on "human development"--asked for letters from my bank (in lieu of prepaid round-trip tickets) and also personal references, in order to prove that I had sufficient means to sustain myself during my visits. I was reminded of my visa and currency hassles while traveling to the communist states of Eastern Europe, particularly East Germany and Czechoslovakia, before those states collapsed.
Ali A. Mazrui, the director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton, predicts that West Africa--indeed, the whole continent--is on the verge of large-scale border upheaval. Mazrui writes, "In the 21st century France will be withdrawing from West Africa as she gets increasingly involved in the affairs [of Europe]. France's West African sphere of influence will be filled by Nigeria--a more natural hegemonic power. . . . It will be under those circumstances that Nigeria's own boundaries are likely to expand to incorporate the Republic of Niger (the Hausa link), the Republic of Benin (the Yoruba link) and conceivably Cameroon."
The future could be more tumultuous, and bloodier, than Mazrui dares to say. France will withdraw from former colonies like Benin, Togo, Niger, and the Ivory Coast, where it has been propping up local currencies. It will do so not only because its attention will be diverted to new challenges in Europe and Russia but also because younger French officials lack the older generation's emotional ties to the ex-colonies. However, even as Nigeria attempts to expand, it, too, is likely to split into several pieces. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research recently made the following points in an analysis of Nigeria: "Prospects for a transition to civilian rule and democratization are slim. . . . The repressive apparatus of the state security service . . . will be difficult for any future civilian government to control. . . . The country is becoming increasingly ungovernable. . . . Ethnic and regional splits are deepening, a situation made worse by an increase in the number of states from 19 to 30 and a doubling in the number of local governing authorities; religious cleavages are more serious; Muslim fundamentalism and evangelical Christian militancy are on the rise; and northern Muslim anxiety over southern [Christian] control of the economy is intense . . . the will to keep Nigeria together is now very weak."
Given that oil-rich Nigeria is a bellwether for the region--its population of roughly 90 million equals the populations of all the other West African states combined--it is apparent that Africa faces cataclysms that could make the Ethiopian and Somalian famines pale in comparison. This is especially so because Nigeria's population, including that of its largest city, Lagos, whose crime, pollution, and overcrowding make it the cliche par excellence of Third World urban dysfunction, is set to double during the next twenty-five years, while the country continues to deplete its natural resources.
Part of West Africa's quandary is that although its population belts are horizontal, with habitation densities increasing as one travels south away from the Sahara and toward the tropical abundance of the Atlantic littoral, the borders erected by European colonialists are vertical, and therefore at cross-purposes with demography and topography. Satellite photos depict the same reality I experienced in the bush taxi: the Lome-Abidjan coastal corridor--indeed, the entire stretch of coast from Abidjan eastward to Lagos--is one burgeoning megalopolis that by any rational economic and geographical standard should constitute a single sovereignty, rather than the five (the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) into which it is currently divided.
As many internal African borders begin to crumble, a more impenetrable boundary is being erected that threatens to isolate the continent as a whole: the wall of disease. Merely to visit West Africa in some degree of safety, I spent about $500 for a hepatitis B vaccination series and other disease prophylaxis. Africa may today be more dangerous in this regard than it was in 1862, before antibiotics, when the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton described the health situation on the continent as "deadly, a Golgotha, a Jehannum." Of the approximately 12 million people worldwide whose blood is HIV-positive, 8 million are in Africa. In the capital of the Ivory Coast, whose modern road system only helps to spread the disease, 10 percent of the population is HIV-positive. And war and refugee movements help the virus break through to more-remote areas of Africa. Alan Greenberg, M.D., a representative of the Centers for Disease Control in Abidjan, explains that in Africa the HIV virus and tuberculosis are now "fast-forwarding each other." Of the approximately 4,000 newly diagnosed tuberculosis patients in Abidjan, 45 percent were also found to be HIV-positive. As African birth rates soar and slums proliferate, some experts worry that viral mutations and hybridizations might, just conceivably, result in a form of the AIDS virus that is easier to catch than the present strain.
It is malaria that is most responsible for the disease wall that threatens to separate Africa and other parts of the Third World from more-developed regions of the planet in the twenty-first century. Carried by mosquitoes, malaria, unlike AIDS, is easy to catch. Most people in sub-Saharan Africa have recurring bouts of the disease throughout their entire lives, and it is mutating into increasingly deadly forms. "The great gift of Malaria is utter apathy," wrote Sir Richard Burton, accurately portraying the situation in much of the Third World today. Visitors to malaria-afflicted parts of the planet are protected by a new drug, mefloquine, a side effect of which is vivid, even violent, dreams. But a strain of cerebral malaria resistant to mefloquine is now on the offensive. Consequently, defending oneself against malaria in Africa is becoming more and more like defending oneself against violent crime. You engage in "behavior modification": not going out at dusk, wearing mosquito repellent all the time.
And the cities keep growing. I got a general sense of the future while driving from the airport to downtown Conakry, the capital of Guinea. The forty-five-minute journey in heavy traffic was through one never-ending shantytown: a nightmarish Dickensian spectacle to which Dickens himself would never have given credence. The corrugated metal shacks and scabrous walls were coated with black slime. Stores were built out of rusted shipping containers, junked cars, and jumbles of wire mesh. The streets were one long puddle of floating garbage. Mosquitoes and flies were everywhere. Children, many of whom had protruding bellies, seemed as numerous as ants. When the tide went out, dead rats and the skeletons of cars were exposed on the mucky beach. In twenty-eight years Guinea's population will double if growth goes on at current rates. Hardwood logging continues at a madcap speed, and people flee the Guinean countryside for Conakry. It seemed to me that here, as elsewhere in Africa and the Third World, man is challenging nature far beyond its limits, and nature is now beginning to take its revenge.
Africa may be as relevant to the future character of world politics as the Balkans were a hundred years ago, prior to the two Balkan wars and the First World War. Then the threat was the collapse of empires and the birth of nations based solely on tribe. Now the threat is more elemental: nature unchecked. Africa's immediate future could be very bad. The coming upheaval, in which foreign embassies are shut down, states collapse, and contact with the outside world takes place through dangerous, disease-ridden coastal trading posts, will loom large in the century we are entering. (Nine of twenty-one U.S. foreign-aid missions to be closed over the next three years are in Africa--a prologue to a consolidation of U.S. embassies themselves.) Precisely because much of Africa is set to go over the edge at a time when the Cold War has ended, when environmental and demographic stress in other parts of the globe is becoming critical, and when the post-First World War system of nation-states--not just in the Balkans but perhaps also in the Middle East--is about to be toppled, Africa suggests what war, borders, and ethnic politics will be like a few decades hence.
To understand the events of the next fifty years, then, one must understand environmental scarcity, cultural and racial clash, geographic destiny, and the transformation of war. The order in which I have named these is not accidental. Each concept except the first relies partly on the one or ones before it, meaning that the last two--new approaches to mapmaking and to warfare--are the most important. They are also the least understood. I will now look at each idea, drawing upon the work of specialists and also my own travel experiences in various parts of the globe besides Africa, in order to fill in the blanks of a new political atlas.
The Environment as a Hostile Power
For a while the media will continue to ascribe riots and other violent upheavals abroad mainly to ethnic and religious conflict. But as these conflicts multiply, it will become apparent that something else is afoot, making more and more places like Nigeria, India, and Brazil ungovernable.
Mention "the environment" or "diminishing natural resources" in foreign-policy circles and you meet a brick wall of skepticism or boredom. To conservatives especially, the very terms seem flaky. Public-policy foundations have contributed to the lack of interest, by funding narrowly focused environmental studies replete with technical jargon which foreign-affairs experts just let pile up on their desks.
It is time to understand "the environment" for what it is: the national-security issue of the early twenty-first century. The political and strategic impact of surging populations, spreading disease, deforestation and soil erosion, water depletion, air pollution, and, possibly, rising sea levels in critical, overcrowded regions like the Nile Delta and Bangladesh--developments that will prompt mass migrations and, in turn, incite group conflicts--will be the core foreign-policy challenge from which most others will ultimately emanate, arousing the public and uniting assorted interests left over from the Cold War. In the twenty-first century water will be in dangerously short supply in such diverse locales as Saudi Arabia, Central Asia, and the southwestern United States. A war could erupt between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River water. Even in Europe tensions have arisen between Hungary and Slovakia over the damming of the Danube, a classic case of how environmental disputes fuse with ethnic and historical ones. The political scientist and erstwhile Clinton adviser Michael Mandelbaum has said, "We have a foreign policy today in the shape of a doughnut--lots of peripheral interests but nothing at the center." The environment, I will argue, is part of a terrifying array of problems that will define a new threat to our security, filling the hole in Mandelbaum's doughnut and allowing a post-Cold War foreign policy to emerge inexorably by need rather than by design.
Our Cold War foreign policy truly began with George F. Kennan's famous article, signed "X," published in Foreign Affairs in July of 1947, in which Kennan argued for a "firm and vigilant containment" of a Soviet Union that was imperially, rather than ideologically, motivated. It may be that our post-Cold War foreign policy will one day be seen to have had its beginnings in an even bolder and more detailed piece of written analysis: one that appeared in the journal International Security. The article, published in the fall of 1991 by Thomas Fraser Homer-Dixon, who is the head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Toronto, was titled "On the Threshold: Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict." Homer-Dixon has, more successfully than other analysts, integrated two hitherto separate fields--military-conflict studies and the study of the physical environment.
In Homer-Dixon's view, future wars and civil violence will often arise from scarcities of resources such as water, cropland, forests, and fish. Just as there will be environmentally driven wars and refugee flows, there will be environmentally induced praetorian regimes--or, as he puts it, "hard regimes." Countries with the highest probability of acquiring hard regimes, according to Homer-Dixon, are those that are threatened by a declining resource base yet also have "a history of state [read 'military'] strength." Candidates include Indonesia, Brazil, and, of course, Nigeria. Though each of these nations has exhibited democratizing tendencies of late, Homer-Dixon argues that such tendencies are likely to be superficial "epiphenomena" having nothing to do with long-term processes that include soaring populations and shrinking raw materials. Democracy is problematic; scarcity is more certain.
Indeed, the Saddam Husseins of the future will have more, not fewer, opportunities. In addition to engendering tribal strife, scarcer resources will place a great strain on many peoples who never had much of a democratic or institutional tradition to begin with. Over the next fifty years the earth's population will soar from 5.5 billion to more than nine billion. Though optimists have hopes for new resource technologies and free-market development in the global village, they fail to note that, as the National Academy of Sciences has pointed out, 95 percent of the population increase will be in the poorest regions of the world, where governments now--just look at Africa--show little ability to function, let alone to implement even marginal improvements. Homer-Dixon writes, ominously, "Neo-Malthusians may underestimate human adaptability in today's environmental-social system, but as time passes their analysis may become ever more compelling."
While a minority of the human population will be, as Francis Fukuyama would put it, sufficiently sheltered so as to enter a "post-historical" realm, living in cities and suburbs in which the environment has been mastered and ethnic animosities have been quelled by bourgeois prosperity, an increasingly large number of people will be stuck in history, living in shantytowns where attempts to rise above poverty, cultural dysfunction, and ethnic strife will be doomed by a lack of water to drink, soil to till, and space to survive in. In the developing world environmental stress will present people with a choice that is increasingly among totalitarianism (as in Iraq), fascist-tending mini-states (as in Serb-held Bosnia), and road-warrior cultures (as in Somalia). Homer-Dixon concludes that "as environmental degradation proceeds, the size of the potential social disruption will increase."
Tad Homer-Dixon is an unlikely Jeremiah. Today a boyish thirty-seven, he grew up amid the sylvan majesty of Vancouver Island, attending private day schools. His speech is calm, perfectly even, and crisply enunciated. There is nothing in his background or manner that would indicate a bent toward pessimism. A Canadian Anglican who spends his summers canoeing on the lakes of northern Ontario, and who talks about the benign mountains, black bears, and Douglas firs of his youth, he is the opposite of the intellectually severe neoconservative, the kind at home with conflict scenarios. Nor is he an environmentalist who opposes development. "My father was a logger who thought about ecologically safe forestry before others," he says. "He logged, planted, logged, and planted. He got out of the business just as the issue was being polarized by environmentalists. They hate changed ecosystems. But human beings, just by carrying seeds around, change the natural world." As an only child whose playground was a virtually untouched wilderness and seacoast, Homer-Dixon has a familiarity with the natural world that permits him to see a reality that most policy analysts--children of suburbia and city streets--are blind to.
"We need to bring nature back in," he argues. "We have to stop separating politics from the physical world--the climate, public health, and the environment." Quoting Daniel Deudney, another pioneering expert on the security aspects of the environment, Homer-Dixon says that "for too long we've been prisoners of 'social-social' theory, which assumes there are only social causes for social and political changes, rather than natural causes, too. This social-social mentality emerged with the Industrial Revolution, which separated us from nature. But nature is coming back with a vengeance, tied to population growth. It will have incredible security implications.
"Think of a stretch limo in the potholed streets of New York City, where homeless beggars live. Inside the limo are the air-conditioned post-industrial regions of North America, Europe, the emerging Pacific Rim, and a few other isolated places, with their trade summitry and computer-information highways. Outside is the rest of mankind, going in a completely different direction."
We are entering a bifurcated world. Part of the globe is inhabited by Hegel's and Fukuyama's Last Man, healthy, well fed, and pampered by technology. The other, larger, part is inhabited by Hobbes's First Man, condemned to a life that is "poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Although both parts will be threatened by environmental stress, the Last Man will be able to master it; the First Man will not.
The Last Man will adjust to the loss of underground water tables in the western United States. He will build dikes to save Cape Hatteras and the Chesapeake beaches from rising sea levels, even as the Maldive Islands, off the coast of India, sink into oblivion, and the shorelines of Egypt, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia recede, driving tens of millions of people inland where there is no room for them, and thus sharpening ethnic divisions.
Homer-Dixon points to a world map of soil degradation in his Toronto office. "The darker the map color, the worse the degradation," he explains. The West African coast, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, China, and Central America have the darkest shades, signifying all manner of degradation, related to winds, chemicals, and water problems. "The worst degradation is generally where the population is highest. The population is generally highest where the soil is the best. So we're degrading earth's best soil."
China, in Homer-Dixon's view, is the quintessential example of environmental degradation. Its current economic "success" masks deeper problems. "China's fourteen percent growth rate does not mean it's going to be a world power. It means that coastal China, where the economic growth is taking place, is joining the rest of the Pacific Rim. The disparity with inland China is intensifying." Referring to the environmental research of his colleague, the Czech-born ecologist Vaclav Smil, Homer-Dixon explains how the per capita availability of arable land in interior China has rapidly declined at the same time that the quality of that land has been destroyed by deforestation, loss of topsoil, and salinization. He mentions the loss and contamination of water supplies, the exhaustion of wells, the plugging of irrigation systems and reservoirs with eroded silt, and a population of 1.54 billion by the year 2025: it is a misconception that China has gotten its population under control. Large-scale population movements are under way, from inland China to coastal China and from villages to cities, leading to a crime surge like the one in Africa and to growing regional disparities and conflicts in a land with a strong tradition of warlordism and a weak tradition of central government--again as in Africa. "We will probably see the center challenged and fractured, and China will not remain the same on the map," Homer-Dixon says.
Environmental scarcity will inflame existing hatreds and affect power relationships, at which we now look.
Skinhead Cossacks, Juju Warriors
In the summer, 1993, issue of Foreign Affairs, Samuel P. Huntington, of Harvard's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, published a thought-provoking article called "The Clash of Civilizations?" The world, he argues, has been moving during the course of this century from nation-state conflict to ideological conflict to, finally, cultural conflict. I would add that as refugee flows increase and as peasants continue migrating to cities around the world--turning them into sprawling villages--national borders will mean less, even as more power will fall into the hands of less educated, less sophisticated groups. In the eyes of these uneducated but newly empowered millions, the real borders are the most tangible and intractable ones: those of culture and tribe. Huntington writes, "First, differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic," involving, among other things, history, language, and religion. "Second . . . interactions between peoples of different civilizations are increasing; these increasing interactions intensify civilization consciousness." Economic modernization is not necessarily a panacea, since it fuels individual and group ambitions while weakening traditional loyalties to the state. It is worth noting, for example, that it is precisely the wealthiest and fastest-developing city in India, Bombay, that has seen the worst intercommunal violence between Hindus and Muslims. Consider that Indian cities, like African and Chinese ones, are ecological time bombs--Delhi and Calcutta, and also Beijing, suffer the worst air quality of any cities in the world--and it is apparent how surging populations, environmental degradation, and ethnic conflict are deeply related.
Huntington points to interlocking conflicts among Hindu, Muslim, Slavic Orthodox, Western, Japanese, Confucian, Latin American, and possibly African civilizations: for instance, Hindus clashing with Muslims in India, Turkic Muslims clashing with Slavic Orthodox Russians in Central Asian cities, the West clashing with Asia. (Even in the United States, African-Americans find themselves besieged by an influx of competing Latinos.) Whatever the laws, refugees find a way to crash official borders, bringing their passions with them, meaning that Europe and the United States will be weakened by cultural disputes.
Because Huntington's brush is broad, his specifics are vulnerable to attack. In a rebuttal of Huntington's argument the Johns Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami, a Lebanese-born Shi'ite who certainly knows the world beyond suburbia, writes in the September-October, 1993, issue of Foreign Affairs, "The world of Islam divides and subdivides. The battle lines in the Caucasus . . . are not coextensive with civilizational fault lines. The lines follow the interests of states. Where Huntington sees a civilizational duel between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Iranian state has cast religious zeal . . . to the wind . . . in that battle the Iranians have tilted toward Christian Armenia."
True, Huntington's hypothesized war between Islam and Orthodox Christianity is not borne out by the alliance network in the Caucasus. But that is only because he has misidentified which cultural war is occurring there. A recent visit to Azerbaijan made clear to me that Azeri Turks, the world's most secular Shi'ite Muslims, see their cultural identity in terms not of religion but of their Turkic race. The Armenians, likewise, fight the Azeris not because the latter are Muslims but because they are Turks, related to the same Turks who massacred Armenians in 1915. Turkic culture (secular and based on languages employing a Latin script) is battling Iranian culture (religiously militant as defined by Tehran, and wedded to an Arabic script) across the whole swath of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The Armenians are, therefore, natural allies of their fellow Indo-Europeans the Iranians.
Huntington is correct that the Caucasus is a flashpoint of cultural and racial war. But, as Ajami observes, Huntington's plate tectonics are too simple. Two months of recent travel throughout Turkey revealed to me that although the Turks are developing a deep distrust, bordering on hatred, of fellow-Muslim Iran, they are also, especially in the shantytowns that are coming to dominate Turkish public opinion, revising their group identity, increasingly seeing themselves as Muslims being deserted by a West that does little to help besieged Muslims in Bosnia and that attacks Turkish Muslims in the streets of Germany.
In other words, the Balkans, a powder keg for nation-state war at the beginning of the twentieth century, could be a powder keg for cultural war at the turn of the twenty-first: between Orthodox Christianity (represented by the Serbs and a classic Byzantine configuration of Greeks, Russians, and Romanians) and the House of Islam. Yet in the Caucasus that House of Islam is falling into a clash between Turkic and Iranian civilizations. Ajami asserts that this very subdivision, not to mention all the divisions within the Arab world, indicates that the West, including the United States, is not threatened by Huntington's scenario. As the Gulf War demonstrated, the West has proved capable of playing one part of the House of Islam against another.
True. However, whether he is aware of it or not, Ajami is describing a world even more dangerous than the one Huntington envisions, especially when one takes into account Homer-Dixon's research on environmental scarcity. Outside the stretch limo would be a rundown, crowded planet of skinhead Cossacks and juju warriors, influenced by the worst refuse of Western pop culture and ancient tribal hatreds, and battling over scraps of overused earth in guerrilla conflicts that ripple across continents and intersect in no discernible pattern--meaning there's no easy-to-define threat. Kennan's world of one adversary seems as distant as the world of Herodotus.
Most people believe that the political earth since 1989 has undergone immense change. But it is minor compared with what is yet to come. The breaking apart and remaking of the atlas is only now beginning. The crack-up of the Soviet empire and the coming end of Arab-Israeli military confrontation are merely prologues to the really big changes that lie ahead. Michael Vlahos, a long-range thinker for the U.S. Navy, warns, "We are not in charge of the environment and the world is not following us. It is going in many directions. Do not assume that democratic capitalism is the last word in human social evolution."
Before addressing the questions of maps and of warfare, I want to take a closer look at the interaction of religion, culture, demographic shifts, and the distribution of natural resources in a specific area of the world: the Middle East.
The Past Is Dead
Built on steep, muddy hills, the shantytowns of Ankara, the Turkish capital, exude visual drama. Altindag, or "Golden Mountain," is a pyramid of dreams, fashioned from cinder blocks and corrugated iron, rising as though each shack were built on top of another, all reaching awkwardly and painfully toward heaven--the heaven of wealthier Turks who live elsewhere in the city. Nowhere else on the planet have I found such a poignant architectural symbol of man's striving, with gaps in house walls plugged with rusted cans, and leeks and onions growing on verandas assembled from planks of rotting wood. For reasons that I will explain, the Turkish shacktown is a psychological universe away from the African one.
To see the twenty-first century truly, one's eyes must learn a different set of aesthetics. One must reject the overly stylized images of travel magazines, with their inviting photographs of exotic villages and glamorous downtowns. There are far too many millions whose dreams are more vulgar, more real--whose raw energies and desires will overwhelm the visions of the elites, remaking the future into something frighteningly new. But in Turkey I learned that shantytowns are not all bad.
Slum quarters in Abidjan terrify and repel the outsider. In Turkey it is the opposite. The closer I got to Golden Mountain the better it looked, and the safer I felt. I had $1,500 worth of Turkish lira in one pocket and $1,000 in traveler's checks in the other, yet I felt no fear. Golden Mountain was a real neighborhood. The inside of one house told the story: The architectural bedlam of cinder block and sheet metal and cardboard walls was deceiving. Inside was a home--order, that is, bespeaking dignity. I saw a working refrigerator, a television, a wall cabinet with a few books and lots of family pictures, a few plants by a window, and a stove. Though the streets become rivers of mud when it rains, the floors inside this house were spotless.
Other houses were like this too. Schoolchildren ran along with briefcases strapped to their backs, trucks delivered cooking gas, a few men sat inside a cafe sipping tea. One man sipped beer. Alcohol is easy to obtain in Turkey, a secular state where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. Yet there is little problem of alcoholism. Crime against persons is infinitesimal. Poverty and illiteracy are watered-down versions of what obtains in Algeria and Egypt (to say nothing of West Africa), making it that much harder for religious extremists to gain a foothold.
My point in bringing up a rather wholesome, crime-free slum is this: its existence demonstrates how formidable is the fabric of which Turkish Muslim culture is made. A culture this strong has the potential to dominate the Middle East once again. Slums are litmus tests for innate cultural strengths and weaknesses. Those peoples whose cultures can harbor extensive slum life without decomposing will be, relatively speaking, the future's winners. Those whose cultures cannot will be the future's victims. Slums--in the sociological sense--do not exist in Turkish cities. The mortar between people and family groups is stronger here than in Africa. Resurgent Islam and Turkic cultural identity have produced a civilization with natural muscle tone. Turks, history's perennial nomads, take disruption in stride.
The future of the Middle East is quietly being written inside the heads of Golden Mountain's inhabitants. Think of an Ottoman military encampment on the eve of the destruction of Greek Constantinople in 1453. That is Golden Mountain. "We brought the village here. But in the village we worked harder--in the field, all day. So we couldn't fast during [the holy month of] Ramadan. Here we fast. Here we are more religious." Aishe Tanrikulu, along with half a dozen other women, was stuffing rice into vine leaves from a crude plastic bowl. She asked me to join her under the shade of a piece of sheet metal. Each of these women had her hair covered by a kerchief. In the city they were encountering television for the first time. "We are traditional, religious people. The programs offend us," Aishe said. Another woman complained about the schools. Though her children had educational options unavailable in the village, they had to compete with wealthier, secular Turks. "The kids from rich families with connections--they get all the places." More opportunities, more tensions, in other words.
My guidebook to Golden Mountain was an untypical one: Tales From the Garbage Hills, a brutally realistic novel by a Turkish writer, Latife Tekin, about life in the shantytowns, which in Turkey are called gecekondus ("built in a night"). "He listened to the earth and wept unceasingly for water, for work and for the cure of the illnesses spread by the garbage and the factory waste," Tekin writes. In the most revealing passage of Tales From the Garbage Hills the squatters are told "about a certain 'Ottoman Empire' . . . that where they now lived there had once been an empire of this name." This history "confounded" the squatters. It was the first they had heard of it. Though one of them knew "that his grandfather and his dog died fighting the Greeks," nationalism and an encompassing sense of Turkish history are the province of the Turkish middle and upper classes, and of foreigners like me who feel required to have a notion of "Turkey."
But what did the Golden Mountain squatters know about the armies of Turkish migrants that had come before their own--namely, Seljuks and Ottomans? For these recently urbanized peasants, and their counterparts in Africa, the Arab world, India, and so many other places, the world is new, to adapt V. S. Naipaul's phrase. As Naipaul wrote of urban refugees in India: A Wounded Civilization, "They saw themselves at the beginning of things: unaccommodated men making a claim on their land for the first time, and out of chaos evolving their own philosophy of community and self-help. For them the past was dead; they had left it behind in the villages."
Everywhere in the developing world at the turn of the twenty-first century these new men and women, rushing into the cities, are remaking civilizations and redefining their identities in terms of religion and tribal ethnicity which do not coincide with the borders of existing states.
In Turkey several things are happening at once. In 1980, 44 percent of Turks lived in cities; in 1990 it was 61 percent. By the year 2000 the figure is expected to be 67 percent. Villages are emptying out as concentric rings of gecekondu developments grow around Turkish cities. This is the real political and demographic revolution in Turkey and elsewhere, and foreign correspondents usually don't write about it.
Whereas rural poverty is age-old and almost a "normal" part of the social fabric, urban poverty is socially destabilizing. As Iran has shown, Islamic extremism is the psychological defense mechanism of many urbanized peasants threatened with the loss of traditions in pseudo-modern cities where their values are under attack, where basic services like water and electricity are unavailable, and where they are assaulted by a physically unhealthy environment. The American ethnologist and orientalist Carleton Stevens Coon wrote in 1951 that Islam "has made possible the optimum survival and happiness of millions of human beings in an increasingly impoverished environment over a fourteen-hundred-year period." Beyond its stark, clearly articulated message, Islam's very militancy makes it attractive to the downtrodden. It is the one religion that is prepared to fight. A political era driven by environmental stress, increased cultural sensitivity, unregulated urbanization, and refugee migrations is an era divinely created for the spread and intensification of Islam, already the world's fastest-growing religion. (Though Islam is spreading in West Africa, it is being hobbled by syncretization with animism: this makes new converts less apt to become anti-Western extremists, but it also makes for a weakened version of the faith, which is less effective as an antidote to crime.)
In Turkey, however, Islam is painfully and awkwardly forging a consensus with modernization, a trend that is less apparent in the Arab and Persian worlds (and virtually invisible in Africa). In Iran the oil boom--because it put development and urbanization on a fast track, making the culture shock more intense--fueled the 1978 Islamic Revolution. But Turkey, unlike Iran and the Arab world, has little oil. Therefore its development and urbanization have been more gradual. Islamists have been integrated into the parliamentary system for decades. The tensions I noticed in Golden Mountain are natural, creative ones: the kind immigrants face the world over. While the world has focused on religious perversity in Algeria, a nation rich in natural gas, and in Egypt, parts of whose capital city, Cairo, evince worse crowding than I have seen even in Calcutta, Turkey has been living through the Muslim equivalent of the Protestant Reformation.
Resource distribution is strengthening Turks in another way vis-a-vis Arabs and Persians. Turks may have little oil, but their Anatolian heartland has lots of water--the most important fluid of the twenty-first century. Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project, involving twenty-two major dams and irrigation systems, is impounding the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Much of the water that Arabs and perhaps Israelis will need to drink in the future is controlled by Turks. The project's centerpiece is the mile-wide, sixteen-story Ataturk Dam, upon which are emblazoned the words of modern Turkey's founder: "Ne Mutlu Turkum Diyene" ("Lucky is the one who is a Turk").
Unlike Egypt's Aswan High Dam, on the Nile, and Syria's Revolution Dam, on the Euphrates, both of which were built largely by Russians, the Ataturk Dam is a predominantly Turkish affair, with Turkish engineers and companies in charge. On a recent visit my eyes took in the immaculate offices and their gardens, the high-voltage electric grids and phone switching stations, the dizzying sweep of giant humming transformers, the poured-concrete spillways, and the prim unfolding suburbia, complete with schools, for dam employees. The emerging power of the Turks was palpable.
Erduhan Bayindir, the site manager at the dam, told me that "while oil can be shipped abroad to enrich only elites, water has to be spread more evenly within the society. . . . It is true, we can stop the flow of water into Syria and Iraq for up to eight months without the same water overflowing our dams, in order to regulate their political behavior."
Power is certainly moving north in the Middle East, from the oil fields of Dhahran, on the Persian Gulf, to the water plain of Harran, in southern Anatolia--near the site of the Ataturk Dam. But will the nation-state of Turkey, as presently constituted, be the inheritor of this wealth?
I very much doubt it.
The Lies of Mapmakers
Whereas West Africa represents the least stable part of political reality outside Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, Turkey, an organic outgrowth of two Turkish empires that ruled Anatolia for 850 years, has been among the most stable. Turkey's borders were established not by colonial powers but in a war of independence, in the early 1920s. Kemal Ataturk provided Turkey with a secular nation-building myth that most Arab and African states, burdened by artificially drawn borders, lack. That lack will leave many Arab states defenseless against a wave of Islam that will eat away at their legitimacy and frontiers in coming years. Yet even as regards Turkey, maps deceive.
It is not only African shantytowns that don't appear on urban maps. Many shantytowns in Turkey and elsewhere are also missing--as are the considerable territories controlled by guerrilla armies and urban mafias. Traveling with Eritrean guerrillas in what, according to the map, was northern Ethiopia, traveling in "northern Iraq" with Kurdish guerrillas, and staying in a hotel in the Caucasus controlled by a local mafia--to say nothing of my experiences in West Africa--led me to develop a healthy skepticism toward maps, which, I began to realize, create a conceptual barrier that prevents us from comprehending the political crack-up just beginning to occur worldwide.
Consider the map of the world, with its 190 or so countries, each signified by a bold and uniform color: this map, with which all of us have grown up, is generally an invention of modernism, specifically of European colonialism. Modernism, in the sense of which I speak, began with the rise of nation-states in Europe and was confirmed by the death of feudalism at the end of the Thirty Years' War--an event that was interposed between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, which together gave birth to modern science. People were suddenly flush with an enthusiasm to categorize, to define. The map, based on scientific techniques of measurement, offered a way to classify new national organisms, making a jigsaw puzzle of neat pieces without transition zones between them. "Frontier" is itself a modern concept that didn't exist in the feudal mind. And as European nations carved out far-flung domains at the same time that print technology was making the reproduction of maps cheaper, cartography came into its own as a way of creating facts by ordering the way we look at the world.
In his book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson, of Cornell University, demonstrates that the map enabled colonialists to think about their holdings in terms of a "totalizing classificatory grid. . . . It was bounded, determinate, and therefore--in principle--countable." To the colonialist, country maps were the equivalent of an accountant's ledger books. Maps, Anderson explains, "shaped the grammar" that would make possible such questionable concepts as Iraq, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The state, recall, is a purely Western notion, one that until the twentieth century applied to countries covering only three percent of the earth's land area. Nor is the evidence compelling that the state, as a governing ideal, can be successfully transported to areas outside the industrialized world. Even the United States of America, in the words of one of our best living poets, Gary Snyder, consists of "arbitrary and inaccurate impositions on what is really here."
Yet this inflexible, artificial reality staggers on, not only in the United Nations but in various geographic and travel publications (themselves by-products of an age of elite touring which colonialism made possible) that still report on and photograph the world according to "country." Newspapers, this magazine, and this writer are not innocent of the tendency.
According to the map, the great hydropower complex emblemized by the Ataturk Dam is situated in Turkey. Forget the map. This southeastern region of Turkey is populated almost completely by Kurds. About half of the world's 20 million Kurds live in "Turkey." The Kurds are predominant in an ellipse of territory that overlaps not only with Turkey but also with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the former Soviet Union. The Western-enforced Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, a consequence of the 1991 Gulf War, has already exposed the fictitious nature of that supposed nation-state.
On a recent visit to the Turkish-Iranian border, it occurred to me what a risky idea the nation-state is. Here I was on the legal fault line between two clashing civilizations, Turkic and Iranian. Yet the reality was more subtle: as in West Africa, the border was porous and smuggling abounded, but here the people doing the smuggling, on both sides of the border, were Kurds. In such a moonscape, over which peoples have migrated and settled in patterns that obliterate borders, the end of the Cold War will bring on a cruel process of natural selection among existing states. No longer will these states be so firmly propped up by the West or the Soviet Union. Because the Kurds overlap with nearly everybody in the Middle East, on account of their being cheated out of a state in the post-First World War peace treaties, they are emerging, in effect, as the natural selector--the ultimate reality check. They have destabilized Iraq and may continue to disrupt states that do not offer them adequate breathing space, while strengthening states that do.
Because the Turks, owing to their water resources, their growing economy, and the social cohesion evinced by the most crime-free slums I have encountered, are on the verge of big-power status, and because the 10 million Kurds within Turkey threaten that status, the outcome of the Turkish-Kurdish dispute will be more critical to the future of the Middle East than the eventual outcome of the recent Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
America's fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, coupled with its lack of interest in the Turkish-Kurdish one, is a function of its own domestic and ethnic obsessions, not of the cartographic reality that is about to transform the Middle East. The diplomatic process involving Israelis and Palestinians will, I believe, have little effect on the early- and mid-twenty-first-century map of the region. Israel, with a 6.6 percent economic growth rate based increasingly on high-tech exports, is about to enter Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, fortified by a well-defined political community that is an organic outgrowth of history and ethnicity. Like prosperous and peaceful Japan on the one hand, and war-torn and poverty-wracked Armenia on the other, Israel is a classic national-ethnic organism. Much of the Arab world, however, will undergo alteration, as Islam spreads across artificial frontiers, fueled by mass migrations into the cities and a soaring birth rate of more than 3.2 percent. Seventy percent of the Arab population has been born since 1970--youths with little historical memory of anticolonial independence struggles, postcolonial attempts at nation-building, or any of the Arab-Israeli wars. The most distant recollection of these youths will be the West's humiliation of colonially invented Iraq in 1991. Today seventeen out of twenty-two Arab states have a declining gross national product; in the next twenty years, at current growth rates, the population of many Arab countries will double. These states, like most African ones, will be ungovernable through conventional secular ideologies. The Middle East analyst Christine M. Helms explains, "Declaring Arab nationalism "bankrupt," the political "disinherited" are not rationalizing the failure of Arabism . . . or reformulating it. Alternative solutions are not contemplated. They have simply opted for the political paradigm at the other end of the political spectrum with which they are familiar--Islam."
Like the borders of West Africa, the colonial borders of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, and other Arab states are often contrary to cultural and political reality. As state control mechanisms wither in the face of environmental and demographic stress, "hard" Islamic city-states or shantytown-states are likely to emerge. The fiction that the impoverished city of Algiers, on the Mediterranean, controls Tamanrasset, deep in the Algerian Sahara, cannot obtain forever. Whatever the outcome of the peace process, Israel is destined to be a Jewish ethnic fortress amid a vast and volatile realm of Islam. In that realm, the violent youth culture of the Gaza shantytowns may be indicative of the coming era.
The destiny of Turks and Kurds is far less certain, but far more relevant to the kind of map that will explain our future world. The Kurds suggest a geographic reality that cannot be shown in two-dimensional space. The issue in Turkey is not simply a matter of giving autonomy or even independence to Kurds in the southeast. This isn't the Balkans or the Caucasus, where regions are merely subdividing into smaller units, Abkhazia breaking off from Georgia, and so on. Federalism is not the answer. Kurds are found everywhere in Turkey, including the shanty districts of Istanbul and Ankara. Turkey's problem is that its Anatolian land mass is the home of two cultures and languages, Turkish and Kurdish. Identity in Turkey, as in India, Africa, and elsewhere, is more complex and subtle than conventional cartography can display.
A New Kind of War
To appreciate fully the political and cartographic implications of postmodernism--an epoch of themeless juxtapositions, in which the classificatory grid of nation-states is going to be replaced by a jagged-glass pattern of city-states, shanty-states, nebulous and anarchic regionalisms--it is necessary to consider, finally, the whole question of war.
"Oh, what a relief to fight, to fight enemies who defend themselves, enemies who are awake!" Andre Malraux wrote in Man's Fate. I cannot think of a more suitable battle cry for many combatants in the early decades of the twenty-first century. The intense savagery of the fighting in such diverse cultural settings as Liberia, Bosnia, the Caucasus, and Sri Lanka--to say nothing of what obtains in American inner cities--indicates something very troubling that those of us inside the stretch limo, concerned with issues like middle-class entitlements and the future of interactive cable television, lack the stomach to contemplate. It is this: a large number of people on this planet, to whom the comfort and stability of a middle-class life is utterly unknown, find war and a barracks existence a step up rather than a step down.
"Just as it makes no sense to ask 'why people eat' or 'what they sleep for,'" writes Martin van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in The Transformation of War, "so fighting in many ways is not a means but an end. Throughout history, for every person who has expressed his horror of war there is another who found in it the most marvelous of all the experiences that are vouchsafed to man, even to the point that he later spent a lifetime boring his descendants by recounting his exploits." When I asked Pentagon officials about the nature of war in the twenty-first century, the answer I frequently got was "Read Van Creveld." The top brass are enamored of this historian not because his writings justify their existence but, rather, the opposite: Van Creveld warns them that huge state military machines like the Pentagon's are dinosaurs about to go extinct, and that something far more terrible awaits us.
The degree to which Van Creveld's Transformation of War complements Homer-Dixon's work on the environment, Huntington's thoughts on cultural clash, my own realizations in traveling by foot, bus, and bush taxi in more than sixty countries, and America's sobering comeuppances in intractable-culture zones like Haiti and Somalia is startling. The book begins by demolishing the notion that men don't like to fight. "By compelling the senses to focus themselves on the here and now," Van Creveld writes, war "can cause a man to take his leave of them." As anybody who has had experience with Chetniks in Serbia, "technicals" in Somalia, Tontons Macoutes in Haiti, or soldiers in Sierra Leone can tell you, in places where the Western Enlightenment has not penetrated and where there has always been mass poverty, people find liberation in violence. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, I vicariously experienced this phenomenon: worrying about mines and ambushes frees you from worrying about mundane details of daily existence. If my own experience is too subjective, there is a wealth of data showing the sheer frequency of war, especially in the developing world since the Second World War. Physical aggression is a part of being human. Only when people attain a certain economic, educational, and cultural standard is this trait tranquilized. In light of the fact that 95 percent of the earth's population growth will be in the poorest areas of the globe, the question is not whether there will be war (there will be a lot of it) but what kind of war. And who will fight whom?
Debunking the great military strategist Carl von Clausewitz, Van Creveld, who may be the most original thinker on war since that early-nineteenth-century Prussian, writes, "Clausewitz's ideas . . . were wholly rooted in the fact that, ever since 1648, war had been waged overwhelmingly by states." But, as Van Creveld explains, the period of nation-states and, therefore, of state conflict is now ending, and with it the clear "threefold division into government, army, and people" which state-directed wars enforce. Thus, to see the future, the first step is to look back to the past immediately prior to the birth of modernism--the wars in medieval Europe which began during the Reformation and reached their culmination in the Thirty Years' War.
Van Creveld writes, "In all these struggles political, social, economic, and religious motives were hopelessly entangled. Since this was an age when armies consisted of mercenaries, all were also attended by swarms of military entrepreneurs. . . . Many of them paid little but lip service to the organizations for whom they had contracted to fight. Instead, they robbed the countryside on their own behalf. . . ."
"Given such conditions, any fine distinctions . . . between armies on the one hand and peoples on the other were bound to break down. Engulfed by war, civilians suffered terrible atrocities."
Back then, in other words, there was no "politics" as we have come to understand the term, just as there is less and less "politics" today in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, among other places.
Because, as Van Creveld notes, the radius of trust within tribal societies is narrowed to one's immediate family and guerrilla comrades, truces arranged with one Bosnian commander, say, may be broken immediately by another Bosnian commander. The plethora of short-lived ceasefires in the Balkans and the Caucasus constitute proof that we are no longer in a world where the old rules of state warfare apply. More evidence is provided by the destruction of medieval monuments in the Croatian port of Dubrovnik: when cultures, rather than states, fight, then cultural and religious monuments are weapons of war, making them fair game.
Also, war-making entities will no longer be restricted to a specific territory. Loose and shadowy organisms such as Islamic terrorist organizations suggest why borders will mean increasingly little and sedimentary layers of tribalistic identity and control will mean more. "From the vantage point of the present, there appears every prospect that religious . . . fanaticisms will play a larger role in the motivation of armed conflict" in the West than at any time "for the last 300 years," Van Creveld writes. This is why analysts like Michael Vlahos are closely monitoring religious cults. Vlahos says, "An ideology that challenges us may not take familiar form, like the old Nazis or Commies. It may not even engage us initially in ways that fit old threat markings." Van Creveld concludes, "Armed conflict will be waged by men on earth, not robots in space. It will have more in common with the struggles of primitive tribes than with large-scale conventional war." While another military historian, John Keegan, in his new book A History of Warfare, draws a more benign portrait of primitive man, it is important to point out that what Van Creveld really means is re-primitivized man: warrior societies operating at a time of unprecedented resource scarcity and planetary overcrowding.
Van Creveld's pre-Westphalian vision of worldwide low-intensity conflict is not a superficial "back to the future" scenario. First of all, technology will be used toward primitive ends. In Liberia the guerrilla leader Prince Johnson didn't just cut off the ears of President Samuel Doe before Doe was tortured to death in 1990--Johnson made a video of it, which has circulated throughout West Africa. In December of 1992, when plotters of a failed coup against the Strasser regime in Sierra Leone had their ears cut off at Freetown's Hamilton Beach prior to being killed, it was seen by many to be a copycat execution. Considering, as I've explained earlier, that the Strasser regime is not really a government and that Sierra Leone is not really a nation-state, listen closely to Van Creveld: "Once the legal monopoly of armed force, long claimed by the state, is wrested out of its hands, existing distinctions between war and crime will break down much as is already the case today in . . . Lebanon, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, or Colombia."
If crime and war become indistinguishable, then "national defense" may in the future be viewed as a local concept. As crime continues to grow in our cities and the ability of state governments and criminal-justice systems to protect their citizens diminishes, urban crime may, according to Van Creveld, "develop into low-intensity conflict by coalescing along racial, religious, social, and political lines." As small-scale violence multiplies at home and abroad, state armies will continue to shrink, being gradually replaced by a booming private security business, as in West Africa, and by urban mafias, especially in the former communist world, who may be better equipped than municipal police forces to grant physical protection to local inhabitants.
Future wars will be those of communal survival, aggravated or, in many cases, caused by environmental scarcity. These wars will be subnational, meaning that it will be hard for states and local governments to protect their own citizens physically. This is how many states will ultimately die. As state power fades--and with it the state's ability to help weaker groups within society, not to mention other states--peoples and cultures around the world will be thrown back upon their own strengths and weaknesses, with fewer equalizing mechanisms to protect them. Whereas the distant future will probably see the emergence of a racially hybrid, globalized man, the coming decades will see us more aware of our differences than of our similarities. To the average person, political values will mean less, personal security more. The belief that we are all equal is liable to be replaced by the overriding obsession of the ancient Greek travelers: Why the differences between peoples?
The Last Map
In Geography and the Human Spirit, Anne Buttimer, a professor at University College, Dublin, recalls the work of an early-nineteenth-century German geographer, Carl Ritter, whose work implied "a divine plan for humanity" based on regionalism and a constant, living flow of forms. The map of the future, to the extent that a map is even possible, will represent a perverse twisting of Ritter's vision. Imagine cartography in three dimensions, as if in a hologram. In this hologram would be the overlapping sediments of group and other identities atop the merely two-dimensional color markings of city-states and the remaining nations, themselves confused in places by shadowy tentacles, hovering overhead, indicating the power of drug cartels, mafias, and private security agencies. Instead of borders, there would be moving "centers" of power, as in the Middle Ages. Many of these layers would be in motion. Replacing fixed and abrupt lines on a flat space would be a shifting pattern of buffer entities, like the Kurdish and Azeri buffer entities between Turkey and Iran, the Turkic Uighur buffer entity between Central Asia and Inner China (itself distinct from coastal China), and the Latino buffer entity replacing a precise U.S.-Mexican border. To this protean cartographic hologram one must add other factors, such as migrations of populations, explosions of birth rates, vectors of disease. Henceforward the map of the world will never be static. This future map--in a sense, the "Last Map"--will be an ever-mutating representation of chaos.
The Indian subcontinent offers examples of what is happening. For different reasons, both India and Pakistan are increasingly dysfunctional. The argument over democracy in these places is less and less relevant to the larger issue of governability. In India's case the question arises, Is one unwieldy bureaucracy in New Delhi the best available mechanism for promoting the lives of 866 million people of diverse languages, religions, and ethnic groups? In 1950, when the Indian population was much less than half as large and nation-building idealism was still strong, the argument for democracy was more impressive than it is now. Given that in 2025 India's population could be close to 1.5 billion, that much of its economy rests on a shrinking natural-resource base, including dramatically declining water levels, and that communal violence and urbanization are spiraling upward, it is difficult to imagine that the Indian state will survive the next century. India's oft-trumpeted Green Revolution has been achieved by overworking its croplands and depleting its watershed. Norman Myers, a British development consultant, worries that Indians have "been feeding themselves today by borrowing against their children's food sources."
Pakistan's problem is more basic still: like much of Africa, the country makes no geographic or demographic sense. It was founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent, yet there are more subcontinental Muslims outside Pakistan than within it. Like Yugoslavia, Pakistan is a patchwork of ethnic groups, increasingly in violent conflict with one another. While the Western media gushes over the fact that the country has a woman Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, Karachi is becoming a subcontinental version of Lagos. In eight visits to Pakistan, I have never gotten a sense of a cohesive national identity. With as much as 65 percent of its land dependent on intensive irrigation, with wide-scale deforestation, and with a yearly population growth of 2.7 percent (which ensures that the amount of cultivated land per rural inhabitant will plummet), Pakistan is becoming a more and more desperate place. As irrigation in the Indus River basin intensifies to serve two growing populations, Muslim-Hindu strife over falling water tables may be unavoidable.
"India and Pakistan will probably fall apart," Homer-Dixon predicts. "Their secular governments have less and less legitimacy as well as less management ability over people and resources." Rather than one bold line dividing the subcontinent into two parts, the future will likely see a lot of thinner lines and smaller parts, with the ethnic entities of Pakhtunistan and Punjab gradually replacing Pakistan in the space between the Central Asian plateau and the heart of the subcontinent.
None of this even takes into account climatic change, which, if it occurs in the next century, will further erode the capacity of existing states to cope. India, for instance, receives 70 percent of its precipitation from the monsoon cycle, which planetary warming could disrupt.
Not only will the three-dimensional aspects of the Last Map be in constant motion, but its two-dimensional base may change too. The National Academy of Sciences reports that "as many as one billion people, or 20 per cent of the world's population, live on lands likely to be inundated or dramatically changed by rising waters. . . . Low-lying countries in the developing world such as Egypt and Bangladesh, where rivers are large and the deltas extensive and densely populated, will be hardest hit. . . . Where the rivers are dammed, as in the case of the Nile, the effects . . . will be especially severe."
Egypt could be where climatic upheaval--to say nothing of the more immediate threat of increasing population--will incite religious upheaval in truly biblical fashion. Natural catastrophes, such as the October, 1992, Cairo earthquake, in which the government failed to deliver relief aid and slum residents were in many instances helped by their local mosques, can only strengthen the position of Islamic factions. In a statement about greenhouse warming which could refer to any of a variety of natural catastrophes, the environmental expert Jessica Tuchman Matthews warns that many of us underestimate the extent to which political systems, in affluent societies as well as in places like Egypt, "depend on the underpinning of natural systems." She adds, "The fact that one can move with ease from Vermont to Miami has nothing to say about the consequences of Vermont acquiring Miami's climate."
Indeed, it is not clear that the United States will survive the next century in exactly its present form. Because America is a multi-ethnic society, the nation-state has always been more fragile here than it is in more homogeneous societies like Germany and Japan. James Kurth, in an article published in The National Interest in 1992, explains that whereas nation-state societies tend to be built around a mass-conscription army and a standardized public school system, "multicultural regimes" feature a high-tech, all-volunteer army (and, I would add, private schools that teach competing values), operating in a culture in which the international media and entertainment industry has more influence than the "national political class." In other words, a nation-state is a place where everyone has been educated along similar lines, where people take their cue from national leaders, and where everyone (every male, at least) has gone through the crucible of military service, making patriotism a simpler issue. Writing about his immigrant family in turn-of-the-century Chicago, Saul Bellow states, "The country took us over. It was a country then, not a collection of 'cultures.'"
During the Second World War and the decade following it, the United States reached its apogee as a classic nation-state. During the 1960s, as is now clear, America began a slow but unmistakable process of transformation. The signs hardly need belaboring: racial polarity, educational dysfunction, social fragmentation of many and various kinds. William Irwin Thompson, in Passages About Earth: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture, writes, "The educational system that had worked on the Jews or the Irish could no longer work on the blacks; and when Jewish teachers in New York tried to take black children away from their parents exactly in the way they had been taken from theirs, they were shocked to encounter a violent affirmation of negritude."
Issues like West Africa could yet emerge as a new kind of foreign-policy issue, further eroding America's domestic peace. The spectacle of several West African nations collapsing at once could reinforce the worst racial stereotypes here at home. That is another reason why Africa matters. We must not kid ourselves: the sensitivity factor is higher than ever. The Washington, D.C., public school system is already experimenting with an Afrocentric curriculum. Summits between African leaders and prominent African-Americans are becoming frequent, as are Pollyanna-ish prognostications about multiparty elections in Africa that do not factor in crime, surging birth rates, and resource depletion. The Congressional Black Caucus was among those urging U.S. involvement in Somalia and in Haiti. At the Los Angeles Times minority staffers have protested against, among other things, what they allege to be the racist tone of the newspaper's Africa coverage, allegations that the editor of the "World Report" section, Dan Fisher, denies, saying essentially that Africa should be viewed through the same rigorous analytical lens as other parts of the world.
Africa may be marginal in terms of conventional late-twentieth-century conceptions of strategy, but in an age of cultural and racial clash, when national defense is increasingly local, Africa's distress will exert a destabilizing influence on the United States.
This and many other factors will make the United States less of a nation than it is today, even as it gains territory following the peaceful dissolution of Canada. Quebec, based on the bedrock of Roman Catholicism and Francophone ethnicity, could yet turn out to be North America's most cohesive and crime-free nation-state. (It may be a smaller Quebec, though, since aboriginal peoples may lop off northern parts of the province.) "Patriotism" will become increasingly regional as people in Alberta and Montana discover that they have far more in common with each other than they do with Ottawa or Washington, and Spanish-speakers in the Southwest discover a greater commonality with Mexico City. (The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau, a book about the continent's regionalization, is more relevant now than when it was published, in 1981.) As Washington's influence wanes, and with it the traditional symbols of American patriotism, North Americans will take psychological refuge in their insulated communities and cultures.
Returning from West Africa last fall was an illuminating ordeal. After leaving Abidjan, my Air Afrique flight landed in Dakar, Senegal, where all passengers had to disembark in order to go through another security check, this one demanded by U.S. authorities before they would permit the flight to set out for New York. Once we were in New York, despite the midnight hour, immigration officials at Kennedy Airport held up disembarkation by conducting quick interrogations of the aircraft's passengers--this was in addition to all the normal immigration and customs procedures. It was apparent that drug smuggling, disease, and other factors had contributed to the toughest security procedures I have ever encountered when returning from overseas.
Then, for the first time in over a month, I spotted businesspeople with attache cases and laptop computers. When I had left New York for Abidjan, all the businesspeople were boarding planes for Seoul and Tokyo, which departed from gates near Air Afrique's. The only non-Africans off to West Africa had been relief workers in T-shirts and khakis. Although the borders within West Africa are increasingly unreal, those separating West Africa from the outside world are in various ways becoming more impenetrable.
But Afrocentrists are right in one respect: we ignore this dying region at our own risk. When the Berlin Wall was falling, in
November of 1989, I happened to be in Kosovo, covering a riot between Serbs and Albanians. The future was in Kosovo, I told
myself that night, not in Berlin. The same day that Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat clasped hands on the White House lawn, my
Air Afrique plane was approaching Bamako, Mali, revealing corrugated-zinc shacks at the edge of an expanding desert. The real
news wasn't at the White House, I realized. It was right below. -------------------- Robert D. Kaplan is a contributing editor of
The Atlantic Monthly. His article in this issue (February, 1994) will be expanded into a book he is writing for Random House, with
support from the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Article A14760186
READING #3 Note: The reading in the course anthology is from The National Interest. It is not available on line. The following
reading covers the same material and is equivalent to the original article for test purposes.
Francis Fukuyama. ARE WE AT THE END OF HISTORY? Fortune, Jan 15, 1990 v121 n2 p75(3)
Full Text: COPYRIGHT Time Inc. 1990
"Bold and brilliant," trumpeted Chicago philosopher Allan Bloom when his former student Francis Fukuyama published "The End of History?" in the neoconservative journal The National Interest last summer. "Sophomoric," retorted Harvard political scientist Stanley Hoffmann. Fukuyama advanced his sweeping argument for the triumph of liberal democracy -- liberal in the classical sense that it is based on political and economic liberty -- before the regimes of Eastern Europe began falling apart en masse. Here he summarizes his thesis and explains what it means for the economic future. Fukuyama, until recently deputy director of the State Department's policy planning staff, speaks for himself, not for the government.
While the suddenness of Communism's collapse in Eastern Europe in 1989 surprised many of us, the fact that it occurred in the first place should not have. The fall of the regimes in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia was the direct result of the death of Marxism-Leninism in the original homeland of the world proletariat, the Soviet Union. That death was not one of concrete institutions, but of an idea, and it is in turn part of a larger phenomenon -- the remarkable consensus that has developed in the past couple of centuries over the viability and desirability of economic and political liberalism. It is this consensus around liberal democracy as the final form of government that I have called "the end of history."
The notion of the end of history is not an original one. Its best known propagator was of course Karl Marx, who believed that historical development was purposeful and would come to an end only with the achievement of a Communist utopia. But Marx borrowed from his great German predecessor, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the concept of history as a dialectical process with a beginning, a middle, and an end. We owe to Hegel the notion that history is propelled forward through the overcoming of contradictions between thesis and antithesis.
"History," for Hegel, can be understood in the narrower sense of the "history of ideology," or the history of thought about first principles, including those governing political and social organization. The end of history, then, means not the end of worldly events but the end of the evolution of thought about such first principles. That evolution comes to rest in the liberal-democratic states descended from the French and American revolutions and based on the principles of liberty and equality.
In the past century, there have been two major challenges to liberalism: fascism and Communism. Fascism was destroyed as a living ideology by World War II. Communism's challenge was far more severe. Marx asserted that liberal society contained a fundamental and unresolved contradiction, that between capital and labor. This has been the chief accusation against liberalism ever since. But surely the class issue has been successfully resolved in the West. The egalitarianism of modern America represents essentially the attainment of the classless society envisioned by Marx. The economic inequalities that persist and in some cases have grown worse in recent years are not an outgrowth of the legal and social structure of our society but the legacy of a preliberal past that includes slavery.
Surely the most remarkable changes have occurred in Asia. In Japan, the fact that the essential elements of political and economic liberalism have been so successfully grafted onto unique national traditions and institutions guarantees their survival in the long run. More important is the contribution Japan has made to world history by following in the footsteps of the U.S. to create a truly universal consumer culture, both the symbol and the underpinning of what followers of Hegel have termed the universal homogenous state. We might summarize its contents as liberal democracy in the political sphere combined with easy access to VCRs and stereos in the economic sphere.
Political liberalism has also developed in connection with economic liberalism in unexpected places from South Korea to the Philippines. But the power of the liberal idea would seem much less impressive if it had not infected the largest and oldest culture in Asia, China. In the past 15 years Marxism-Leninism has been almost totally discredited there as an economic system, and the post-crackdown resurgence of ideological language now sounds positively archaic. The tragic repression in Tiananmen Square was in a way less remarkable than the massive pro-democracy movement that brought it on, and it is likely to prove less enduring. The People's Republic can no longer act as a beacon for illiberal forces around the world, whether guerrillas or middle-class students. Far from being the pattern for Asia's future, Maoism has become an anachronism.
It is the developments in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, however, that have driven the final nail into the coffin of Marxism-Leninism. Although formal institutions are changing only now, what has happened in the realm of ideas is a revolutionary assault on the most fundamental principles of Stalinism. The Soviet Union could not be described as a liberal or democratic country at present, though it has made important strides in the past year. But at the end of history it is not necessary that all societies become successful liberal democracies, merely that they end their ideological pretensions to represent different and higher forms of human society. Despite his tactical invocations of Lenin, Gorbachev has permitted people to say what they have privately understood for years: that the magical incantations of Marxism-Leninism were nonsense, that Soviet socialism was not superior to the West in any respect but was in fact a monumental failure.
What are the implications of the end of history for international relations? Suppose for a moment that Marxism-Leninism ceases to be a factor driving the foreign policies of Russia and China -- a prospect that the past few years have made a real possibility. How will a de-ideologized world change at such a hypothetical juncture?
The most common answer is -- not very much. Many observers of international relations believe that under the skin of ideology is a hard core of great-power national interest that guarantees a fairly high level of competition and conflict between nations. Believers in this line of thought take the 19th-century European balance of power as a model for what a de-ideologized contemporary world would look like. For example, the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer recently contended that if the U.S.S.R. is shorn of Marxist-Leninist ideology, its behavior will revert to that of 19th-century imperial Russia.
In fact, the notion that ideology is a superstructure imposed on a substratum of permanent great-power interest is a highly questionable proposition. Since Hitler's fiery defeat, the legitimacy of any kind of territorial aggrandizement has been thoroughly discredited. European nationalism has been defanged and shorn of any real relevance to foreign policy, so the 19th-century model of great-power behavior has become a serious anachronism. The most extreme form of nationalism that any Western European state has mustered since 1945 has been Gaullism, whose self-assertion has been confined largely to the realms of nuisance politics and culture. International life for the part of the world that has reached the end of history is far more preoccupied with economics than with politics or strategy.
To take the "neo-realist" theory seriously, one would have to believe that "natural" competitive behavior would reassert itself were Russia and China to disappear from the face of the earth. For example, West Germany and France Lwould arm themselves against each other as they did in the 1930s, and the U.S.-Canadian border would become fortified. Such a prospect is, of course, ludicrous: Minus Marxist-Leninist ideology, we are far more likely to see the "common marketization" of world politics than the disintegration of the European Community into 19th-century competitiveness. Indeed, as our experience in dealing with Western Europe on matters such as terrorism or Libya proves, it is much farther than we down the road that denies the legitimacy of the use of force in international politics, even in self-defense.
The automatic assumption that a Russia shorn of expansionist Communist ideology should pick up where the czars left off is therefore a curious one. It assumes that the evolution of human consciousness has stood still in the meantime, and that the Soviets, while picking up currently fashionable ideas in the realm of economics, will return to foreign policy views a century out of date in the rest of Europe. This is certainly not what happened to China after it began its reform process. Chinese competitiveness and expansion on the world scene have virtually disappeared: Beijing no longer sponsors Maoist insurgencies or tries to cultivate influence in distant African countries as it did in the 1960s.
The real question for the future, however, is the degree to which Soviet elites have assimilated the consciousness of the universal homogenous state that is post-Hitler Europe. From their writings and from my personal encounters with them, the liberal Soviet intelligentsia rallying around Gorbachev have undoubtedly arrived at the end-of-history view in a remarkably short time, owing in no small measure to contacts since the Brezhnev era with the larger European civilization around them. "New political thinking," the general rubric for their views, describes a world where economic concerns are dominant, where no ideological grounds exist for major conflict between nations, and where, consequently, the use of military force becomes less legitimate.
This post-historical consciousness represents only one possible future for the Soviet Union, however. The strong and persistent current of Russian chauvinism has found freer expression since the advent of glasnost. Unlike the propagators of traditional Marxism-Leninism, ultranationalists in the U.S.S.R. believe in the Slavophile cause passionately, and one senses that the fascist alternative has not played itself out entirely there. The Soviet Union, then, is at a fork in the road: It can start down the path that was staked out by Western Europe 45 years ago, a path that most of Asia has followed, or it can insist on its own uniqueness and remain stuck in history.
The passing of Marxism-Leninism first from China and then from the Soviet Union will mean its death as a living ideology of world historical significance. For while there may be some isolated true believers left in places like Managua, Pyongyang, or Cambridge, Massachusetts, the fact that there is not a single large state in which it is a going concern undermines completely its pretensions to occupy the vanguard of history. The death of this ideology means a lessened likelihood of large-scale conflict between states.
This in no way implies the end of international conflict per se. For the world at that point would be divided between a part that was historical and a part that was post-historical. Conflict would remain possible between states still in history, and between those states and the others at the end of history. There would still be a high and perhaps rising level of ethnic and nationalist violence, since those impulses are incompletely played out, even in parts of the post-historical world. Palestinians and Kurds, Sikhs and Tamils, Irish Catholics and Walloons, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, will continue to have unresolved grievances. This implies that terrorism and wars of national liberation will continue to be important. But large-scale conflict must involve large states still in the grip of history, and they appear to be passing from the scene.
The victory of political and economic liberalism suggests the vastly greater importance of economics to world politics. Indeed, the meaning of "great power" will be based increasingly on economic rather than military, territorial, or other more traditional measures of might. But the consensus that has formed around economic liberalism and market principles is only in part a victory of producers. Consumers, not producers, have the upper hand in the definition of national political goals; it is certainly consumers (or more correctly, potential consumers) who are driving the democratic revolution in Eastern Europe.
Producers in the developed world have been deregulated, taxed at lower rates, and generally liberated to operate more efficiently -- not because their interests are regarded as paramount, but only because such a course seemed the best way to satisfy the demands of consumers. Consumers do not always want what can be measured in GNP: They also demand things like clean air and a safe environment for their children, and it is this broader set of goals that will shape the political agendas, both domestic and international, of the post-historical world.
For the moment, however, the potential consumers of Eastern Europe seem to want to liberate producers to create the prosperity they see in the West. Even Gorbachev recently redefined the essence of socialism to mean that the weak should get out of the way of the strong and efficient. The reforms announced in Poland suggest that the newly democratizing governments in Eastern Europe will not opt for some kind of democratic socialism, but will move quickly to relatively unrestricted market economies.
We are not quite yet on the other side of history. The spread of liberal democracy does not happen automatically or in a linear fashion. Individuals and governments will have to intervene actively to bring it about. The interdependence of politics and economics has never been more evident than in the delicate process of rebuilding liberal political institutions and market economies in the countries of Eastern Europe. American business can play an extremely important role in helping them over this transition. What Eastern Europe lacks, like Western Europe in 1945, are infrastructure and capital, which Western governments can supply only in part. It is American and European business, acting in its own long-term self-interest, that will have to provide the East with the wherewithal to rejoin us at the end of history.
CAPTION: Author Fukuyama at ease in suburban Washington
Mag.Coll.: 53C2328. Bus.Coll.: 48Z4851. Article A8253157
Brief Summary: Future international conflicts will be a direct result of the cultural, historic, ethnic and religious differences that make civilizations unique. Westerners erroneously assume that other civilizations can and will embrace individualism and democracy, but Confucian, Islamic, Japanese Hindu and other groups do not view the Western outlook as desirable. The differences among civilizations hamper peace efforts and attempts at economic integration.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT Council on Foreign Relations Inc. 1993
THE NEXT PATTERN OF CONFLICT
World politics Is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be--the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
Conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world. For a century and a half after the emergence of the modern international system with the Peace of Westphalia, the conflicts of the Western world were largely among princes--emperors, absolute monarchs and constitutional monarchs attempting to expand their bureaucracies, their armies, their mercantilist economic strength and, most important, the territory they ruled. In the process they created nation states, and beginning with the French Revolution the principal lines of conflict were between nations rather than princes. In 1793, as R. R. Palmer put it, "The wars of kings were over; the wars of peoples had begun." This nineteenth-century pattern lasted until the end of World War 1. Then, as a result of the Russian Revolution and the reaction against it, the conflict of nations yielded to the conflict of ideologies, first among communism, fascism-Nazism and liberal democracy, and then between communism and liberal democracy. During the Cold War, this latter conflict became embodied in the struggle between the two superpowers, neither of which was a nation state in the classical European sense and each of which defined its identity in terms of its ideology.
These conflicts between princes, nation states and ideologies were primarily conflicts within Western civilization, "Western civil wars," as William Lind has labeled them. This was as true of the Cold War as it was of the world wars and the earlier wars of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With the end of the Cold War, international politics moves out of its Western phase, and its center-piece becomes the interaction between the West and non-Western civilizations and among non-Western civilizations. In the politics of civilizations, the peoples and governments of non-Western civilizations no longer remain the objects of history as targets of Western colonialism but join the West as movers and shapers of history.
THE NATURE OF CIVILIZATIONS
During the cold war the world was divided into the First, Second and Third Worlds. Those divisions are no longer relevant. It is far more meaningful now to group countries not in terms of their political or economic systems or in terms of their level of economic development but rather in terms of their culture and civilization.
What do we mean when we talk of a civilization? A civilization is a cultural entity. Villages, regions, ethnic groups, nationalities, religious groups, all have distinct cultures at different levels of cultural heterogeneity. The culture of a village in southern Italy may be different from that of a village in northern Italy, but both will share in a common Italian culture that distinguishes them from German villages. European communities, in turn, will share cultural features that distinguish them from Arab or Chinese communities. Arabs, Chinese and Westerners, however, are not part of any broader cultural entity. They constitute civilizations. A civilization is thus the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species. It is defined both by common objective elements, such as language, history, religion, customs, institutions, and by the subjective self-identification of people. People have levels of identity: a resident of Rome may define himself with varying degrees of intensity as a Roman, an Italian, a Catholic, a Christian, a European, a Westerner. The civilization to which he belongs is the broadest level of identification with which he intensely identifies. People can and do redefine their identities and, as a result, the composition and boundaries of civilizations change.
Civilizations may involve a large number of people, as with China ("a civilization pretending to be a state," as Lucian Pye put it), or a very small number of people, such as the Anglophone Caribbean. A civilization may include several nation states, as is the case with Western, Latin American and Arab civilizations, or only one, as is the case with Japanese civilization. Civilizations obviously blend and overlap, and may include subcivilizations. Western civilization has two major variants, European and North American, and Islam has its Arab, Turkic and Malay subdivisions. Civilizations are nonetheless meaningful entities, and while the lines between them are seldom sharp, they are real. Civilizations are dynamic; they rise and fall; they divide and merge. And, as any student of history knows, civilizations disappear and are buried in the sands of time.
Westerners tend to think of nation states as the principal actors in global affairs. They have been that, however, for only a few centuries. The broader reaches of human history have been the history of civilizations. In A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee identified 21 major civilizations; only six of them exist in the contemporary world.
WHY CIVILIZATIONS WILL CLASH
Civilization identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another.
Why will this be the case?
First, differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic. Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion. The people of different civilizations have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences are the product of centuries. They will not soon disappear. They are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes. Differences do not necessarily mean conflict, and conflict does not necessarily, mean violence. Over the centuries, however, differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts.
Second, the world is becoming a smaller place. The interactions between peoples of different civilizations are increasing; these increasing interactions intensify civilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizations and commonalities within civilizations. North African immigration to France generates hostility among Frenchmen and at the same time increased receptivity to immigration by "good" European Catholic Poles. Americans react far more negatively to Japanese investment than to larger investments from Canada and European countries. Similarly, as Donald Horowitz has pointed out, "An Ibo may be ... an Owerri Ibo or an Onitsha Ibo in what was the Eastern region of Nigeria. In Lagos, he is simply an Ibo. In London, he is a Nigerian. In New York, he is an African." The interactions among peoples of different civilizations enhance the civilization-consciousness of people that, in turn, invigorates differences and animosities stretching or thought to stretch back deep into history.
Third, the processes of economic modernization and social change throughout the world are separating people from longstanding local identities. They also weaken the nation state as a source of identity. In much of the world religion has moved in to fill this gap, often in the form of movements that are labeled "fundamentalist." Such movements are found in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Islam. In most countries and most religions the people active in fundamentalist movements are young, college-educated, middle-class technicians, professionals and business persons. The "unsecularization of the world," George Weigel has remarked, "is one of the dominant social facts of life in the late twentieth century." The revival of religion, "la revanche de Dieu," as Gilles Kepel labeled it, provides a basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries and unites civilizations.
Fourth, the growth of civilization-consciousness is enhanced by the dual role of the West. On the one hand, the West is at a peak of power. At the same time, however, and perhaps as a result, a return to the roots phenomenon is occurring among non-Western civilizations. Increasingly one hears references to trends toward a turning inward and "Asianization" in Japan, the end of the Nehru legacy and the "Hinduization" of India, the failure of Western ideas of socialism and nationalism and hence "re-Islamization" of the Middle East, and now a debate over Westernization versus Russianization in Boris Yeltsin's country. A West at the peak of its power confronts non-Wests that increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways.
In the past, the elites of non-Western societies were usually the people who were most involved with the West, had been educated at Oxford, the Sorbonne or Sandhurst, and had absorbed Western attitudes and values. At the same time, the populace in non-Western countries often remained deeply imbued with the indigenous culture. Now, however, these relationships are being reversed. A de-Westernization and indigenization of elites is occurring in many non-Western countries at the same time that Western, usually American, cultures, styles and habits become more popular among the mass of the people.
Fifth, cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones. In the former Soviet Union, communists can become democrats, the rich can become poor and the poor rich, but Russians cannot become Estonians and Azeris cannot become Armenians. In class and ideological conflicts, the key question was "Which side are you on?" and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts between civilizations, the question is "What are you?" That is a given that cannot be changed. And as we know, from Bosnia to the Caucasus to the Sudan, the wrong answer to that question can mean a bullet in the head. Even more than ethnicity, religion discriminates sharply and exclusively among people. A person can be half-French and half-Arab and simultaneously even a citizen of two countries. It is more difficult to be half-Catholic and half-Muslim.
Finally, economic regionalism is increasing. The proportions of total trade that were intraregional rose between 1980 and 1989 from 51 percent to 59 percent in Europe, 33 percent to 37 percent in East Asia, and 32 percent to 36 percent in North America. The importance of regional economic blocs is likely to continue to increase in the future. On the one hand, successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness. On the other hand, economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization. The European Community rests on the shared foundation of European culture and Western Christianity. The success of the North American Free Trade Area depends on the convergence now underway of Mexican, Canadian and American cultures. Japan, in contrast, faces difficulties in creating a comparable economic entity in East Asia because Japan is a society and civilization unique to itself. However strong the trade and investment links Japan may develop with other East Asian countries, its cultural differences with those countries inhibit and perhaps preclude its promoting regional economic integration like that in Europe and North America.
Common culture, in contrast, is clearly facilitating the rapid expansion of the economic relations between the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the overseas Chinese communities in other Asian countries. With the Cold War over, cultural commonalities increasingly overcome ideological differences, and mainland China and Taiwan move closer together. If cultural commonality is a prerequisite for economic integration, the principal East Asian economic bloc of the future is likely to be centered on China. This bloc is, in fact, already coming into existence. As Murray Weidenbaum has observed,
Despite the current Japanese dominance of the region, the Chinese-based economy of Asia is rapidly emerging as a new epicenter for industry, commerce and finance. This strategic area contains substantial amounts of technology and manufacturing capability (Taiwan), outstanding entrepreneurial, marketing and services acumen (Hong Kong), a fine communications network Singapore), a tremendous pool of financial capital (all three), and very large endowments of land, resources and labor (mainland China).... From Guangzhou to Singapore, from Kuala Lumpur to Manila, this influential network--often based on extensions of the traditional clans--has been described as the backbone of the East Asian economy.(1)
Culture and religion also form the basis of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which brings together ten non-Arab Muslim countries: Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. One impetus to the revival and expansion of this organization, founded originally in the 1960 by Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, is the realization by the leaders of several of these countries that they had no chance of admission to the European Community. Similarly, Caricom, the Central American Common Market and Mercosur rest on common cultural foundations. Efforts to build a broader Caribbean-Central American economic entity bridging the Anglo-Latin divide, however, have to date failed.
As people define their identity in ethnic and religious terms, they are likely to see an "us" versus "them" relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity or religion. The end of ideologically defined states in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union permits traditional ethnic identities and animosities to come to the fore. Differences in culture and religion create differences over policy issues, ranging from human rights to immigration to trade and commerce to the environment. Geographical propinquity gives rise to conflicting territorial claims from Bosnia to Mindanao. Most important, the efforts of the West to promote its values of democracy and liberalism as universal values, to maintain its military predominance and to advance its economic interests engender countering responses from other civilizations. Decreasingly able to mobilize support and form coalitions on the basis of ideology, governments and groups will increasingly attempt to mobilize support by appealing to common religion and civilization identity.
The clash of civilizations thus occurs at two levels. At the micro-level, adjacent groups along the fault lines between civilizations struggle, often violently, over the control of territory and each other. At the macro-level, states from different civilizations compete for relative military and economic power, struggle over the control of international institutions and third parties, and competitively promote their particular political and religious values.
THE FAULT LINES BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS
The fault lines between civilizations are replacing the political and ideological boundaries of the Cold War as the flash points for crisis and bloodshed. The Cold War began when the Iron Curtain divided Europe politically and ideologically. The Cold War ended with the end of the Iron Curtain. As the ideological division of Europe has disappeared, the cultural division of Europe between Western Christianity, on the one hand, and Orthodox Christianity and Islam, on the other, has reemerged. The most significant dividing line in Europe, as William Wallace has suggested, may well be the eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the year 1500. This line runs along what are now the boundaries between Finland and Russia and between the Baltic states and Russia, cuts through Belarus and Ukraine separating the more Catholic western Ukraine from Orthodox eastern Ukraine, swings westward separating Transylvania from the rest of Romania, and then goes through Yugoslavia almost exactly along the line now separating Croatia and Slovenia from the rest of Yugoslavia. In the Balkans this line, of course, coincides with the historic boundary between the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires. The peoples to the north and west of this line are Protestant or Catholic; they shared the common experiences of European history--feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution; they are generally economically better off than the peoples to the east; and they may now look forward to increasing involvement in a common European economy and to the consolidation of democratic political systems. The peoples to the east and south of this line are Orthodox or Muslim; they historically belonged to the Ottoman or Tsarist empires and were only lightly touched by the shaping events in the rest of Europe; they are generally less advanced economically; they seem much less likely to develop stable democratic political systems. The Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe. As the events in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of difference; it is also at times a line of bloody conflict.
Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 years. After the founding of Islam, the Arab and Moorish surge west and north only ended at Tours in 732. From the eleventh to the thirteenth century the Crusaders attempted with temporary success to bring Christianity and Christian rule to the Holy Land. From the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, the Ottoman Turks reversed the balance, extended their sway over the Middle East and the Balkans, captured Constantinople, and twice laid siege to Vienna. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as Ottoman power declined Britain, France, and Italy established Western control over most of North Africa and the Middle East.
After World War 11, the West, in turn, began to retreat; the colonial empires disappeared; first Arab nationalism and then Islamic fundamentalism manifested themselves; the West became heavily dependent on the Persian Gulf countries for its energy; the oil-rich Muslim countries became money-rich and, when they wished to, weapons-rich. Several wars occurred between Arabs and Israel (created by the West). France fought a bloody and ruthless war in Algeria for most of the 1950; British and French forces invaded Egypt in 1956; American forces went into Lebanon in 1958; subsequently American forces returned to Lebanon, attacked Libya, and engaged in various military encounters with Iran; Arab and Islamic terrorists, supported by at least three Middle Eastern governments, employed the weapon of the weak and bombed Western planes and installations and seized Western hostages. This warfare between Arabs and the West culminated in 1990, when the United States sent a massive army to the Persian Gulf to defend some Arab countries against aggression by another. In its aftermath NATO planning is increasingly directed to potential threats and instability along its "southern tier."
This centuries-old military interaction between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline. It could become more virulent. The Gulf War left some Arabs feeling proud that Saddam Hussein had attacked Israel and stood up to the West. It also left many feeling humiliated and resentful of the West's military presence in the Persian Gulf, the West's overwhelming military dominance, and their apparent inability to shape their own destiny. Many Arab countries, in addition to the oil exporters, are reaching levels of economic and social development where autocratic forms of government become inappropriate and efforts to introduce democracy become stronger. Some openings in Arab political systems have already occurred. The principal beneficiaries of these openings have been Islamist movements. In the Arab world, in short, Western democracy strengthens anti-Western political forces. This may be a passing phenomenon, but it surely complicates relations between Islamic countries and the West.
Those relations are also complicated by demography. The spectacular population growth in Arab countries, particularly in North Africa, has led to increased migration to Western Europe. The movement within Western Europe toward minimizing internal boundaries has sharpened political sensitivities with respect to this development. In Italy, France and Germany, racism is increasingly open, and political reactions and violence against Arab and Turkish migrants have become more intense and more widespread since 1990.
On both sides the interaction between Islam and the West is seen as a clash of civilizations. The West's "next confrontation," observes M. J. Akbar, an Indian Muslim author, "is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin." Bernard Lewis comes to a similar conclusion:
We are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than a clash of civilizations--the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both.(2)
Historically, the other great antagonistic interaction of Arab Islamic civilization has been with the pagan, animist, and now increasingly Christian black peoples to the south. In the past, this antagonism was epitomized in the image of Arab slave dealers and black slaves. It has been reflected in the on-going civil war in the Sudan between Arabs and blacks, the fighting in Chad between Libyan-supported insurgents and the government, the tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the Horn of Africa, and the political conflicts, recurring riots and communal violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. The modernization of Africa and the spread of Christianity are likely to enhance the probability of violence along this fault line. Symptomatic of the intensification of this conflict was the Pope John Paul II's speech in Khartoum in February I993 attacking the actions of the Sudan's Islamist government against the Christian minority there.
On the northern border of Islam, conflict has increasingly erupted between Orthodox and Muslim peoples, including the carnage of Bosnia and Sarajevo, the simmering violence between Serb and Albanian, the tenuous relations between Bulgarians and their Turkish minority, the violence between Ossetians and Ingush, the unremitting slaughter of each other by Armenians and Azeris, the tense relations between Russians and Muslims in Central Asia, and the deployment of Russian troops to protect Russian interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Religion reinforces the revital of ethnic identities and restimulates Russian fears about the security of their southern borders. This concern is well captured by Archie Roosevelt:
Much of Russian history concerns the struggle between the Slavs and the Turkic peoples on their borders, which dates back to the foundation of the Russian state more than a thousand years ago. In the Slavs' millennium-long confrontation with their eastern neighbors lies the key to an understanding not only of Russian history, but Russian character. To understand Russian realities today one has to have a concept of the great Turkic ethnic group that has preoccupied Russians through the centuries.(3)
The conflict of civilizations is deeply rooted elsewhere in Asia. The historic clash between Muslim and Hindu in the subcontinent manifests itself now not only in the rivalry between Pakistan and India but also in intensifying religious strife within India between increasingly militant Hindu groups and India's substantial Muslim minority. The destruction of the Ayodhya mosque in December 1992 brought to the fore the issue of whether India will remain a secular democratic state or become a Hindu one. In East Asia, China has outstanding territorial disputes with most of its neighbors. It has pursued a ruthless policy toward the Buddhist people of Tibet, and it is pursuing an increasingly ruthless policy toward its Turkic-Muslim minority. With the Cold War over, the underlying differences between China and the United States have reasserted themselves in areas such as human rights, trade and weapons proliferation. These differences are unlikely to moderate. A "new cold war," Deng Xaioping reportedly asserted in 1991, is under way between China and America.
The same phrase has been applied to the increasingly difficult relations between Japan and the United States. Here cultural difference exacerbates economic conflict. People on each side allege racism on the other, but at least on the American side the antipathies are not racial but cultural. The basic values, attitudes, behavioral patterns of the two societies could hardly be more different. The economic issues between the United States and Europe are no less serious than those between the United States and Japan, but they do not have the same political salience and emotional intensity because the differences between American culture and European culture are so much less than those between American civilization and Japanese civilization.
The interactions between civilizations vary greatly in the extent to which they are likely to be characterized by violence. Economic competition clearly predominates between the American and European subcivilizations of the West and between both of them and Japan. On the Eurasian continent, however, the proliferation of ethnic conflict, epitomized at the extreme in "ethnic cleansing," has not been totally random. It has been most frequent and most violent between groups belonging to different civilizations. In Eurasia the great historic fault lines between civilizations are once more aflame. This is particularly true along the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to central Asia. Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders.
CIVILIZATION RALLYING: THE KIN-COUNTRY SYNDROME
Groups or states belonging to one civilization that become involved in war with people from a different civilization naturally try to rally support from other members of their own civilization. As the post-Cold War world evolves, civilization commonality, what H. D. S. Greenway has termed the "kin-country" syndrome, is replacing political ideology and traditional balance of power considerations as the principal basis for cooperation and coalitions. It can be seen gradually emerging in the post-Cold War conflicts in the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus and Bosnia. None of these was a full-scale war between civilizations, but each involved some elements of civilizational rallying, which seemed to become more important as the conflict continued and which may provide a foretaste of the future.
First, in the Gulf War one Arab state invaded another and then fought a coalition of Arab, Western and other states. While only a few Muslim governments overtly supported Saddam Hussein, many Arab elites privately cheered him on, and he was highly popular among large sections of the Arab publics. Islamic fundamentalist movements universally supported Iraq rather than the Western-backed governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Forswearing Arab nationalism, Saddam Hussein explicitly invoked an Islamic appeal. He and his supporters attempted to define the war as a war between civilizations. "It is not the world against Iraq," as Safar Al-Hawali, dean of Islamic Studies at the Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca, put it in a widely circulated tape. "It is the West against Islam." Ignoring the rivalry between Iran and Iraq, the chief Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for a holy war against the West: "The struggle against American aggression, greed, plans and policies will be counted as a jihad, and anybody who is killed on that path is a martyr." "This is a war," King Hussein of Jordan argued, "against all Arabs and all Muslims and not against Iraq alone."
The rallying of substantial sections of Arab elites and publics behind Saddam Hussein caused those Arab governments in the anti-Iraq coalition to moderate their activities and temper their public statements. Arab governments opposed or distanced themselves from subsequent Western efforts to apply pressure on Iraq, including enforcement of a no-fly zone in the summer of 1992 and the bombing of Iraq in january I993. The Western- Soviet-Turkish-Arab anti-Iraq coalition of 1990 had by 1993 become a coalition of almost only the West and Kuwait against Iraq.
Muslims contrasted Western actions against Iraq with the West's failure to protect Bosnians against Serbs and to impose sanctions on Israel for violating U.N. resolutions. The West, they alleged, was using a double standard. A world of clashing civilizations, however, is inevitably a world of double standards: people apply one standard to their kin-countries and a different standard to others.
Second, the kin-country syndrome also appeared in conflicts in the former Soviet Union. Armenian military successes in 1992 and I993 stimulated Turkey to become increasingly supportive of its religious, ethnic and linguistic brethren in Azerbaijan. "We have a Turkish nation feeling the same sentiments as the Azerbaijanis," said one Turkish official in 1992. "We are under pressure. Our newspapers are full of the photos of atrocities and are asking us if we are still serious about pursuing our neutral policy. Maybe we should show Armenia that there's a big Turkey in the region." President Turgut Ozal agreed, remarking that Turkey should at least "scare the Armenians a little bit." Turkey, Ozal threatened again in 1993, would "show its fangs." Turkish Air Force jets flew reconnaissance flights along the Armenian border; Turkey suspended food shipments and air flights to Armenia; and Turkey and Iran announced they would not accept dismemberment of Azerbaijan. In the last years of its existence, the Soviet government supported Azerbaijan because its government was dominated by former communists. With the end of the Soviet Union, however, political considerations gave way to religious ones. Russian troops fought on the side of the Armenians, and Azerbaijan accused the "Russian government of turning 180 degrees" toward support for Christian Armenia.
Third, with respect to the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, Western publics manifested sympathy and support for the Bosnian Muslims and the horrors they suffered at the hands of the Serbs. Relatively little concern was expressed, however, over Croatian attacks on Muslims and participation in the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the early stages of the Yugoslav breakup, Germany, in an unusual display of diplomatic initiative and muscle, induced the other II members of the European Community to follow its lead in recognizing Slovenia and Croatia. As a result of the pope's determination to provide strong backing to the two Catholic countries, the Vatican extended recognition even before the Community did. The United States followed the European lead. Thus the leading actors in Western civilization rallied behind their coreligionists. Subsequently Croatia was reported to be receiving substantial quantities of arms from Central European and other Western countries. Boris Yeltsin's government, on the other hand, attempted to pursue a middle course that would be sympathetic to the Orthodox Serbs but not alienate Russia from the West. Russian conservative and nationalist groups, however, including many legislators, attacked the government for not being more forthcoming in its support for the Serbs. By early 1993 several hundred Russians apparently were serving with the Serbian forces, and reports circulated of Russian arms being supplied to Serbia.
Islamic governments and groups, on the other hand, castigated the West for not coming to the defense of the Bosnians. Iranian leaders urged Muslims from all countries to provide help to Bosnia; in violation of the U.N. arms embargo, Iran supplied weapons and men for the Bosnians; Iranian-supported Lebanese groups sent guerriuas to train and organize the Bosnian forces. In I993 uP to 4,000 Muslims from over two dozen Islamic countries were reported to be fighting in Bosnia. The governments of Saudi Arabia and other countries felt under increasing pressure from fundamentalist groups in their own societies to provide more vigorous support for the Bosnians. By the end of 1992, Saudi Arabia had reportedly supplied substantial funding for weapons and supplies for the Bosnians, which significantly increased their military capabilities vis-a-vis the Serbs.
In the 1930s the Spanish Civil War provoked intervention from countries that politically were fascist, communist and democratic. In the 1990s the Yugoslav conflict is provoking intervention from countries that are Muslim, Orthodox and Western Christian. The parallel has not gone unnoticed. "The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has become the emotional equivalent of the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War," one Saudi editor observed. "Those who died there are regarded as martyrs who tried to save their fellow Muslims."
Conflicts and violence will also occur between states and groups within the same civilization. Such conflicts, however, are likely to be less intense and less likely to expand than conflicts between civilizations. Common membership in a civilization reduces the probability of violence in situations where it might otherwise occur. In 1991 and 1992 many people were alarmed by the possibility of violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine over territory, particularly Crimea, the Black Sea fleet, nuclear weapons and economic issues. If civilization is what counts, however, the likelihood of violence between Ukrainians and Russians should be low. They are two Slavic, primarily Orthodox peoples who have had close relationships with each other for centuries. As of early 1993, despite all the reasons for conflict, the leaders of the two countries were effectively negotiating and defusing the issues between the two countries. While there has been serious fighting between Muslims and Christians elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and much tension and some fighting between Western and Orthodox Christians in the Baltic states, there has been virtually no violence between Russians and Ukrainians.
Civilization rallying to date has been limited, but it has been growing, and it clearly has the potential to spread much further. As the conflicts in the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus and Bosnia continued, the positions of nations and the cleavages between them increasingly were along civilizational lines. Populist politicians, religious leaders and the media have found it a potent means of arousing mass support and of pressuring hesitant governments. In the coming years, the
local conflicts most likely to escalate into major wars will be those, as in Bosnia and the Caucasus, along the fault lines between civilizations. The next world war, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations.
THE WEST VERSUS THE REST
The west in now at an extraordinary peak of power in relation to other civilizations. Its superpower opponent has disappeared from the map. Military conflict among Western states is unthinkable, and Western military power is unrivaled. Apart from Japan, the West faces no economic challenge. It dominates international political and security institutions and with Japan international economic institutions. Global political and security issues are effectively settled by a directorate of the United States, Britain and France, world economic issues by a directorate of the United States, Germany and Japan, all of which maintain extraordinarily close relations with each other to the exclusion of lesser and largely non-Western countries. Decisions made at the U.N. Security Council or in the International Monetary Fund that reflect the interests of the West are presented to the world as reflecting the desires of the world community. The very phrase "the world community" has become the euphemistic collective noun (replacing "the Free World") to give global legitimacy to actions reflecting the interests of the United States and other Western powers.(4) Through the IMF and other international economic institutions, the West promotes its economic interests and imposes on other nations the economic policies it thinks appropriate. In any poll of non-Western peoples, the IMF undoubtedly would win the support of finance ministers and a few others, but get an overwhelmingly unfavorable rating from just about everyone else, who would agree with Georgy Arbatov's characterization of IMF officials as "neo-Bolsheviks who love expropriating other people's money, imposing undemocratic and alien rules of economic and political conduct and stifling economic freedom."
Western domination of the U.N. Security Council and its decisions, tempered only by occasional abstention by China, produced U.N. legitimation of the West's use of force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait and its elimination of Iraq's sophisticated weapons and capacity to produce such weapons. It also produced the quite unprecedented action by the United States, Britain and France in getting the Security Council to demand that Libya hand over the Pan Am 103 bombing suspects and then to impose sanctions when Libya refused. After defeating the largest Arab army, the West did not hesitate to throw its weight around in the Arab world. The West in effect is using international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests and promote Western political and economic values.
That at least is the way in which non-Westerners see the new world, and there is a significant element of truth in their view. Differences in power and struggles for military, economic and institutional power are thus one source of conflict between the West and other civilizations. Differences in culture, that is basic values and beliefs, are a second source of conflict. V. S. Naipaul has argued that Western civilization is the "universal civilization" that "fits all men." At a superficial level much of Western culture has indeed permeated the rest of the world. At a more basic level, however, Western concepts differ fundamentally from those prevalent in other civilizations. Western ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, the separation of church and state, often have little resonance in Islamic, Confucian, Japanese, Hindu, Buddhist or Orthodox cultures. Western efforts to propagate such ideas produce instead a reaction against "human rights imperialism" and a reaffirmation of indigenous values, as can be seen in the support for religious fundamentalism by the younger generation in non-Western cultures. The very notion that there could be a "universal civilization" is a Western idea, directly at odds with the particularism of most Asian societies and their emphasis on what distinguishes one people from another. Indeed, the author of a review of 100 comparative studies of values in different societies concluded that "the values that are most important in the West are least important worldwide."(5) In the political realm, of course, these differences are most manifest in the efforts of the United States and other Western powers to induce other peoples to adopt Western ideas concerning democracy and human rights. Modern democratic government originated in the West. When it has developed in non-Western societies it has usually been the product of Western colonialism or imposition.
The central axis of world politics in the future is likely to be, in Kishore Mahbubani's phrase, the conflict between "the West and the Rest" and the responses of non-Western civilizations to Western power and values.(6) Those responses generally take one or a combination of three forms. At one extreme, non-Western states can, like Burma and North Korea, attempt to pursue a course of isolation, to insulate their societies from penetration or "corruption" by the West, and, in effect, to opt out of participation in the Western-dominated global community. The costs of this course, however, are high, and few states have pursued it exclusively. A second alternative, the equivalent of "band-wagoning" in international relations theory, is to attempt to join the West and accept its values and institutions. The third alternative is to attempt to "balance" the West by developing economic and military power and cooperating with other non-Western societies against the West, while preserving indigenous values and institutions; in short, to modernize but not to Westernize.
THE TORN COUNTRIES
In the future, as people differentiate themselves by civilization, countries with large numbers of peoples of different civilizations, such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, are candidates for dismemberment. Some other countries have a fair degree of cultural homogeneity but are divided over whether their society belongs to one civilization or another. These are torn countries. Their leaders typically wish to pursue a bandwagoning strategy and to make their countries members of the West, but the history, culture and traditions of their countries are non-Western. The most obvious and prototypical torn country is Turkey. The late twentieth-century leaders of Turkey have followed in the Attaturk tradition and defined Turkey as a modern, secular, Western nation state. They allied Turkey with the West in NATO and in the Gulf War; they applied for membership in the European Community. At the same time, however, elements in Turkish society have supported an Islamic revival and have argued that Turkey is basically a Middle Eastern Muslim society. In addition, while the elite of Turkey has defined Turkey as a Western society, the elite of the West refuses to accept Turkey as such. Turkey will not become a member of the European Community, and the real reason, as President Ozal said, "is that we are Muslim and they are Christian and they don't say that." Having rejected Mecca, and then being rejected by Brussels, where does Turkey look? Tashkent may be the answer. The end of the Soviet Union gives Turkey the opportunity to become the leader of a revived Turkic civilization involving seven countries from the borders of Greece to those of China. Encouraged by the West, Turkey is making strenuous efforts to carve out this new identity for itself.
During the past decade Mexico has assumed a position somewhat similar to that of Turkey. Just as Turkey abandoned its historic opposition to Europe and attempted to join Europe, Mexico has stopped defining itself by its opposition to the United States and is instead attempting to imitate the United States and to join it in the North American Free Trade Area. Mexican leaders are engaged in the great task of redefining Mexican identity and have introduced fundamental economic reforms that eventually will lead to fundamental political change. In 1991 a top adviser to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari described at length to me all the changes the Salinas government was making. When he finished, I remarked: "That's most impressive. It seems to me that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country." He looked at me with surprise and exclaimed: "Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly." As his remark indicates, in Mexico as in Turkey, significant elements in society resist the redefinition of their country's identity. In Turkey, European-oriented leaders have to make gestures to Islam (Ozal's pilgrimage to Mecca); so also Mexico's North American-oriented leaders have to make gestures to those who hold Mexico to be a Latin American country (Salinas' Ibero-American Guadalajara summit).
Historically Turkey has been the most profoundly torn country. For the United States, Mexico is the most immediate torn country. Globally the most important torn country is Russia. The question of whether Russia is part of the West or the leader of a distinct Slavic-Orthodox civilization has been a recurring one in Russian history. That issue was obscured by the communist victory in Russia, which imported a Western ideology, adapted it to Russian conditions and then challenged the West in the name of that ideology. The dominance of communism shut off the historic debate over Westernization versus Russification. With communism discredited Russians once again face that question.
President Yeltsin is adopting Western principles and goals and seeking to make Russia a "normal" country and a part of the West. Yet both the Russian elite and the Russian public are divided on this issue. Among the more moderate dissenters, Sergei Stankevich argues that Russia should reject the "Atlanticist" course, which would lead it "to become European, to become a part of the world economy in rapid and organized fashion, to become the eighth member of the Seven, and to put particular emphasis on Germany and the United States as the two dominant members of the Atlantic alliance." While also rejecting an exclusively Eurasian policy, Stankevich nonetheless argues that Russia should give priority to the protection of Russians in other countries, emphasize its Turkic and Muslim connections, and promote "an appreciable redistribution of our resources, our options, our ties, and our interests in favor of Asia, of the eastern direction." People of this persuasion criticize Yeltsin for subordinating Russia's interests to those of the West, for reducing Russian military strength, for failing to support traditional friends such as Serbia, and for pushing economic and political reform in ways injurious to the Russian people. Indicative of this trend is the new popularity of the ideas of Petr Savitsky, who in the 1920s argued that Russia was a unique Eurasian civilization.(7) More extreme dissidents voice much more blatantly nationalist, anti-Western and anti-Semitic views, and urge Russia to redevelop its military strength and to establish closer ties with China and Muslim countries. The people of Russia are as divided as the elite. An opinion survey in European Russia in the spring of 1992 revealed that 40 percent of the public had positive attitudes toward the West and 36 percent had negative attitudes. As it has been for much of its history, Russia in the early 1990s is truly a torn country.
To redefine its civilization identity, a torn country must meet three requirements. First, its political and economic elite has to be generally supportive of and enthusiastic about this move. Second, its public has to be willing to acquiesce in the redefinition. Third, the dominant groups in the recipient civilization have to be willing to embrace the convert. All three requirements in large part exist with respect to Mexico. The first two in large part exist with respect to Turkey. It is not clear that any of them exist with respect to Russia's joining the West. The conflict between liberal democracy and Marxism-Leninism was between ideologies which, despite their major differences, ostensibly shared ultimate goals of freedom, equality and prosperity. A traditional, authoritarian, nationalist Russia could have quite different goals. A Western democrat could carry on an intellectual debate with a Soviet Marxist. It would be virtually impossible for him to do that with a Russian traditionalist. If, as the Russians stop behaving like Marxists, they reject liberal democracy and begin behaving like Russians but not like Westerners, the relations between Russia and the West could again become distant and conflictual.(8)
THE CONFUCIAN-ISLAMIC CONNECTION
The obstacles to non-Western countries joining the West vary considerably. They are least for Latin American and East European countries. They are greater for the Orthodox countries of the former Soviet Union. They are still greater for Muslim, Confucian, Hindu and Buddhist societies. Japan has established a unique position for itself as an associate member of the West: it is in the West in some respects but clearly not of the West in important dimensions. Those countries that for reason of culture and power do not wish to, or cannot, join the West compete with the West by developing their own economic, military and political power. They do this by promoting their internal development and by cooperating with other non-Western countries. The most prominent form of this cooperation is the Confucian-Islamic connection that has emerged to challenge Western interests, values and power.
Almost without exception, Western countries are reducing their military power; under Yeltsin's leadership so also is Russia. China, North Korea and several Middle Eastern states, however, are significantly expanding their military capabilities. They are doing this by the import of arms from Western and non-Western sources and by the development of indigenous arms industries. One result is the emergence of what Charles Krauthammer has called "Weapon States," and the Weapon States are not Western states. Another result is the redefinition of arms control, which is a Western concept and a Western goal. During the Cold War the primary purpose of arms control was to establish a stable military balance between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. In the post-Cold War world the primary objective of arms control is to prevent the development by non-Western societies of military capabilities that could threaten Western interests. The West attempts to do this through international agreements, economic pressure and controls on the transfer of arms and weapons technologies.
The conflict between the West and the Confucian-Islamic states focuses largely, although not exclusively, on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles and other sophisticated means for delivering them, and the guidance, intelligence and other electronic capabilities for achieving that goal. The West promotes nonproliferation as a universal norm and nonproliferation treaties and inspections as means of realizing that norm. It also threatens a variety of sanctions against those who promote the spread of sophisticated weapons and proposes some benefits for those who do not. The attention of the West focuses, naturally, on nations that are actually or potentially hostile to the West.
The non-Western nations, on the other hand, assert their right to acquire and to deploy whatever weapons they think necessary for their security. They also have absorbed, to the full, the truth of the response of the Indian defense minister when asked what lesson he learned from the Gulf War: "Don't fight the United States unless you have nuclear weapons." Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and missiles are viewed, probably erroneously, as the potential equalizer of superior Western conventional power. China, of course, already has nuclear weapons; Pakistan and India have the capability to deploy them. North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Algeria appear to be attempting to acquire them. A top Iranian official has declared that all Muslim states should acquire nuclear weapons, and in 1988 the president of Iran reportedly issued a directive calling for development of "offensive and defensive chemical, biological and radiological weapons."
Centrally important to the development of counter-West military capabilities is the sustained expansion of China's military power and its means to create military power. Buoyed by spectacular economic development, China is rapidly increasing its military spending and vigorously moving forward with the modernization of its armed forces. It is purchasing weapons from the former Soviet states; it is developing long-range missiles; in 1992 it tested a one-megaton nuclear device. It is developing power-projection capabilities, acquiring aerial refueling technology, and trying to purchase an aircraft carrier. Its military buildup and assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea are provoking a multilateral regional arms race in East Asia. China is also a major exporter of arms and weapons technology. It has exported materials to Libya and Iraq that could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons and nerve gas. It has helped Algeria build a reactor suitable for nuclear weapons research and production. China has sold to Iran nuclear technology that American officials believe could only be used to create weapons and apparently has shipped components of 300-mile-range missiles to Pakistan. North Korea has had a nuclear weapons program under way for some while and has sold advanced missiles and missile technology to Syria and Iran. The flow of weapons and weapons technology is generally from East Asia to the Middle East. There is, however, some movement in the reverse direction; China has received Stinger missiles from Pakistan.
A Confucian-Islamic military connection has thus come into being, designed to promote acquisition by its members of the weapons and weapons technologies needed to counter the military power of the West. It may or may not last. At present, however, it is, as Dave McCurdy has said, "a renegades' mutual support pact, run by the proliferators and their backers." A new form of arms competition is thus occurring between Islamic-Confucian states and the West. In an old-fashioned arms race, each side developed its own arms to balance or to achieve superiority against the other side. In this new form of arms competition, one side is developing its arms and the other side is attempting not to balance but to limit and prevent that arms build-up while at the same time reducing its own military capabilities.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE WEST
This article does not argue that civilization identities will replace all other identities, that nation states will disappear, that each civilization will become a single coherent political entity, that groups within a civilization will not conflict with and even fight each other. This paper does set forth the hypotheses that differences between civilizations are real and important; civilization-consciousness is increasing; conflict between civilizations will supplant ideological and other forms of conflict as the dominant global form of conflict; international relations, historically a game played out within Western civilization, will increasingly be de-Westernized and become a game in which non-Western civilizations are actors and not simply objects; successful political, security and economic international institutions are more likely to develop within civilizations than across civilizations; conflicts between groups in different civilizations will be more frequent, more sustained and more violent than conflicts between groups in the same civilization; violent conflicts between groups in different civilizations are the most likely and most dangerous source of escalation that could lead to global wars; the paramount axis of world politics will be the relations between "the West and the Rest"; the elites in some torn non-Western countries will try to make their countries part of the West, but in most cases face major obstacles to accomplishing this; a central focus of conflict for the immediate future will be between the West and several Islamic-Confucian states.
This is not to advocate the desirability of conflicts between civilizations. It is to set forth descriptive hypotheses as to what the future may be like. If these are plausible hypotheses, however, it is necessary to consider their implications for Western policy. These implications should be divided between short-term advantage and long-term accommodation. In the short term it is clearly in the interest of the West to promote greater cooperation and unity within its own civilization, particularly between its European and North American components; to incorporate into the West societies in Eastern Europe and Latin America whose cultures are close to those of the West; to promote and maintain cooperative relations with Russia and Japan; to prevent escalation of local inter-civilization conflicts into major inter-civilization wars; to limit the expansion of the military strength of Confucian and Islamic states; to moderate the reduction of Western military capabilities and maintain military superiority in East and Southwest Asia; to exploit differences and conflicts among Confucian and Islamic states; to support in other civilizations groups sympathetic to Western values and interests; to strengthen international institutions that reflect and legitimate Western interests and values and to promote the involvement of non-Western states in those institutions.
In the longer term other measures would be called for. Western civilization is both Western and modern. Non-Western civilizations have attempted to become modern without becoming Western. To date only Japan has fully succeeded in this quest. Non-Western civilizations will continue to attempt to acquire the wealth, technology, skills, machines and weapons that are part of being modern. They will also attempt to reconcile this modernity with their traditional culture and values. Their economic and military strength relative to the West will increase. Hence the West will increasingly have to accommodate these non-Western modern civilizations whose power approaches that of the West but whose values and interests differ significantly from those of the West. This will require the West to maintain the economic and military power necessary to protect its interests in relation to these civilizations. It will also, however, require the West to develop a more profound understanding of the basic religious and philosophical assumptions underlying other civilizations and the ways in which people in those civilizations see their interests. It will require an effort to identify elements of commonality between Western and other civilizations. For the relevant future, there will be no universal civilization, but instead a world of different civilizations, each of which will have to learn to coexist with the others. (1) Murray Weidenbaum, Greater China: The Next Economic Superpower?, St. Louis: Washington University Center for the Study of American Business, Contemporary Issues, Series 57, February 1993, pp. 2-3. (2) Bernard Lewis, "The Roots of Muslim Rage," The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 266, September 1990, p. 6o; Time, June 15, 1992, pp. 24-28. (3) Archie Roosevelt, For Lust of Knowing, Boston: Little, Brown, i988, PP 332-333.
Samuel P. Huntington is the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government and Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. This article is the product of the Olin Institute's project on "The Changing Security Environment and American National Interests." (4) Almost invariably Western leaders claim they are acting on behalf of "the world community." One minor lapse occurred during the run-up to the Gulf War. In an interview on "Good Morning America," Dec. 21, 1990, British Prime Minister John Major referred to the actions "the West" was taking against Saddam Hussein. He quickly corrected himself and subsequently referred to "the world community." He was, however, right when he erred. (5) Harry C. Triandis, The New York Times, Dec. 2S, 1990, p. 41, and "Cross-Cultural Studies of Individualism and Collectivism," Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, vol. 37, 1989, pp. 41-133. (6) Kishore Mahbubani, "The West and the Rest," The National Interest, Summer 1992, pp. 3-13. (7) Sergei Stankevich, "Russia in Search of Itself," The National Interest, Summer 1992, pp. 47-51; Daniel Schneider, "A Russian Movement Rejects Western Tilt," Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 5, 1993, pp. 5-7. (8) Owen Harries has pointed out that Australia is trying (unwisely in his view) to become a torn country in reverse. Although it has been a full member not only of the West but also of the ABCA military and intelligence core of the West, its current leaders are in effect proposing that it defect from the West, redefine itself as an Asian country and cultivate dose ties with its neighbors. Australia's future, they argue, is with the dynamic economies of East Asia. But, as I have suggested, close economic cooperation normally requires a common cultural base. In addition, none of the three conditions necessary for a torn country to join another civilization is likely to exist in Australia's case.
Mag.Coll.: 69H0039. Article A13187561
Brief Summary: Huntington overestimated the cultural differences between civilizations and underestimated the influence of the West on other societies. States have far more power than the author believes. Fundamentalists will not succeed in altering the course of modernization, as Arabs and others depend upon Western education and economic opportunities. The anger felt over that dependence results in conflict, but not to the extent that Huntington imagines.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT Council on Foreign Relations Inc. 1993
In Joseph Conrad's Youth, a novella published at the turn of the century, Marlowe, the narrator, remembers when he first encountered "the East":
And then, before I could open my
lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a
Western voice. A torrent of words was
poured into the enigmatical, the fateful
silence; outlandish, angry words mixed
with words and even whole sentences of
good English, less strange but even more
surprising. The voice swore and cursed
violently; it riddled the solemn peace of
the bay by a volley of abuse. It began by
calling me Pig, and from that went
crescendo into unmentionable adjectives
The young Marlowe knew that even the most remote civilization had been made and remade by the West, and taught new ways.
Not so Samuel P. Huntington. In a curious essay, "The Clash of Civilizations," Huntington has found his civilizations whole and intact, watertight under an eternal sky. Buried alive, as it were, during the years of the Cold War, these civilizations (Islamic, Slavic-Orthodox, Western, Confucian, Japanese, Hindu, etc.) rose as soon as the stone was rolled off, dusted themselves off, and proceeded to claim the loyalty of their adherents. For this student of history and culture, civilizations have always seemed messy creatures. Furrows run across whole civilizations, across individuals themselves--that was modernity's verdict. But Huntington looks past aU that. The crooked and meandering alleyways of the world are straightened out. With a sharp pencil and a steady hand Huntington marks out where one civilization ends and the wilderness of "the other" begins.
More surprising still is Huntington's attitude toward states, and their place in his scheme of things. From one of the most influential and brilliant students of the state and its national interest there now comes an essay that misses the slyness of states, the unsentimental and cold-blooded nature of so much of what they do as they pick their way through chaos. Despite the obligatory passage that states will remain 'the most powerful actors in world affairs," states are written off, their place given over to clashing civilizations. In Huntington's words, "The next world war, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations."
THE POWER OF MODERNITY
Huntington's meditation is occasioned by his concern about the state of the West, its power and the terms of its engagement with "the rest."(1) "He who gives, dominates," the great historian Fernand Braudel observed of the traffic of civilizations. In making itself over the centuries, the West helped make the others as well. We have come to the end of this trail, Huntington is sure. He is impressed by the "de-Westernization" of societies, their "indigenization" and apparent willingness to go their own way. In his view of things such phenomena as the "Hinduization" of India and Islamic fundamentalism are ascendant. To these detours into "tradition" Huntington has assigned great force and power.
But Huntington is wrong. He has underestimated the tenacity of modernity and secularism in places that acquired these ways against great odds, always perilously close to the abyss, the darkness never far. India will not become a Hindu state. The inheritance of Indian secularism will hold. The vast middle class will defend it, keep the order intact to maintain India's--and its own--place in the modem world of nations. There exists in that anarchic polity an instinctive dread of playing with fires that might consume it. Hindu chauvinism may coarsen the public life of the country, but the state and the middle class that sustains it know that a detour into religious fanaticism is a fling with ruin. A resourceful middle class partakes of global culture and norms. A century has passed since the Indian bourgeoisie, through its political vehicle the Indian National Congress, set out to claim for itself and India a place among nations. Out of that long struggle to overturn British rule and the parallel struggle against "communalism," the advocates of the national idea built a large and durable state. They will not cede aU this for a political kingdom of Hindu purity.
We have been hearing from the traditionalists, but we should not exaggerate their power, for traditions are often most insistent and loud when they rupture, when people no longer really believe and when age-old customs lose their ability to keep men and women at home. The phenomenon we have dubbed as Islamic fundamentalism is less a sign of resurgence than of panic and bewilderment and guilt that the border with 'the other" has been crossed. Those young urban poor, half-educated in the cities of the Arab world, and their Sorbonne-educated lay preachers, can they be evidence of a genuine return to tradition? They crash Europe's and America's gates in search of liberty and work, and they rail against the sins of the West. It is easy to understand Huntington's frustration with this kind of complexity, with the strange mixture of attraction and repulsion that the West breeds, and his need to simplify matters, to mark out the borders of civilizations.
Tradition-mongering is no proof, though, that these civilizations outside the West are intact, or that their thrashing about is an indication of their vitality, or that they present a conventional threat of arms. Even so thorough and far-reaching an attack against Western hegemony as Iran's theocratic revolution could yet fall to wean that society from the culture of the West. That country's cruel revolution was born of the realization of the "armed Imam" that his people were being seduced by America's ways. The gates had been thrown wide open in the 1970s, and the high walls Ayatollah Khomeini built around his polity were a response to that cultural seduction. Swamped, Iran was "rescued" by men claiming authenticity as their banner. One extreme led to another.
"We prayed for the rain of mercy and received floods," was the way Mehdi Bazargan, the decent modernist who was Khomeini's first prime minister, put it. But the millennium has been brought down to earth, and the dream of a panIslamic revolt in Iran's image has vanished into the wind. The terror and the shabbiness have caught up with the utopia. Sudan could emulate the Iranian "revolutionary example." But this will only mean the further pauperization and ruin of a desparate land. There is no rehabilitation of the Iranian example.
A battle rages in Algeria, a society of the Mediterranean, close to Europe--a wine-producing country for that matter--and in Egypt between the secular powers that be and an Islamic alternative. But we should not rush to print with obituaries of these states. In Algeria the nomenklatura of the National Liberation Front failed and triggered a revolt of the young, the underclass and the excluded. The revolt raised an Islamic banner. Caught between a regime they despised and a reign of virtue they feared, the professionals and the women and the modernists of the middle class threw their support to the forces of "order." They hailed the army's crackdown on the Islamicists; they allowed the interruption of a democratic process sure to bring the Islamicists to power; they accepted the "liberties" protected by the repression, the devil you know rather than the one you don't.
The Algerian themes repeat in the Egyptian case, although Egypt's dilemma over its Islamicist opposition is not as acute. The Islamicists continue to hound the state, but they cannot bring it down. There is no likelihood that the Egyptian state--now riddled with enough complacency and corruption to try the celebrated patience and good humor of the Egyptians--will go under. This is an old and skeptical country. It knows better than to trust its fate to enforcers of radical religious dogma. These are not deep and secure structures of order that the national middle classes have put in place. But they will not be blown away overnight.
Nor will Turkey lose its way, turn its back on Europe and chase after some imperial temptation in the scorched domains of Central Asia. Huntington sells that country's modernity and secularism short when he writes that the Turks--rejecting Mecca and rejected by Brussels--are likely to head to Tashkent in search of a Pan-Turkic role. There is no journey to that imperial past. Ataturk severed that link with fury, pointed his country westward, embraced the civilization of Europe and did it without qualms or second thoughts. It is on Frankfurt and Bonn--and Washington--not on Baku and Tashkent that the attention of the Turks is fixed. The inheritors of Ataturk's legacy are too shrewd to go chasing after imperial glory, gathering about them the scattered domains of the Turkish peoples. After their European possessions were lost, the Turks clung to Thrace and to all that this link to Europe represents.
Huntington would have nations battle for civilizational ties and fidelities when they would rather scramble for their market shares, learn how to compete in a merciless world economy, provide jobs, move out of poverty. For their part, the "management gurus" and those who believe that the interests have vanquished the passions in today's world tell us that men want Sony, not Soil.(2) There is a good deal of truth in what they say, a terrible exhaustion with utopias, a reluctance to set out on expeditions of principle or belief It is hard to think of Russia, ravaged as it is by inflation, taking up the grand cause of a "second Byzantium," the bearer of the orthodox-Slavic torch.
And where is the Confucian world Huntington speaks of? In the busy and booming lands of the Pacific Rim, so much of politics and ideology has been sublimated into finance that the nations of East Asia have turned into veritable workshops. The civilization of Cathay is dead; the Indonesian archipelago is deaf to the call of the religious radicals in Tehran as it tries to catch up with Malaysia and Singapore. A different wind blows in the lands of the Pacific. In that world economics, not politics, is in command. The world is far less antiseptic than Lee Kuan Yew, the sage of Singapore, would want it to be. A nemesis could lie in wait for all the prosperity that the 1980s brought to the Pacific. But the lands of the Pacific Rim--protected, to be sure, by an American security umbrella--are not ready for a great falling out among the nations. And were troubles to visit that world they would erupt within its boundaries, not across civilizational lines.
The things and ways that the West took to "the rest"--those whole sentences of good English that Marlowe heard a century ago--have become the ways of the world. The secular idea, the state system and the balance of power, pop culture jumping tariff walls and barriers, the state as an instrument of welfare, all these have been internalized in the remotest places. We have stirred up the very storms into which we now ride.
THE WEAKNESS OF TRADITION
Nations "cheat": they juggle identities and interests. Their ways meander. One would think that the traffic of arms from North Korea and China to Libya and Iran and Syria shows this--that states will consort with any civilization, however alien, as long as the price is right and the goods are ready. Huntington turns this routine act of selfishness into a sinister "Confucian-Islamic connection." There are better explanations: the commerce of renegades, plain piracy, an "underground economy" that picks up the slack left by the great arms suppliers (the United States, Russia, Britain and France).
Contrast the way Huntington sees things with Braudel's depiction of the traffic between Christendom and Islam across the Mediterranean in the sixteenth century--and this was in a religious age, after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks and of Granada to the Spanish: "Men passed to and fro, indifferent to frontiers, states and creeds. They were more aware of the necessities for shipping and trade, the hazards of war and piracy, the opportunities for complicity or betrayal provided by circumstances."(3)
Those kinds of "complicities" and ambiguities are missing in Huntington's analysis. Civilizations are crammed into the nooks and crannies--and checkpoints--of the Balkans. Huntington goes where only the brave would venture, into that belt of mixed populations stretching from the Adriatic to the Baltic. Countless nationalisms make their home there, aU aggrieved, all possessed of memories of a fabled past and equally ready for the demagogues vowing to straighten a messy map. In the thicket of these pan-movements he finds the line that marked 'the eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the year 1500." The scramble for turf between Croatian nationalism and its Serbian counterpart, their "joint venture" in carving up Bosnia, are made into a fight of the inheritors of Rome, Byzantium and Islam.
But why should we fall for this kind of determinism? "An outsider who travels the highway between Zagreb and Belgrade is struck not by the decisive historical fault line which falls across the lush Slavonian plain but by the opposite. Serbs and Croats speak the same language, give or take a few hundred words, have shared the same village way of life for centuries."(4) The cruel genius of Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman, men on horseback familiar in lands and situations of distress, was to make their bids for power into grand civilizational undertakings--the ramparts of the Enlightenment defended against Islam or, in Tudjmaris case, against the heirs of the Slavic-Orthodox faith. Differences had to be magnified. Once Tito, an equal opportunity oppressor, had passed from the scene, the balancing act among the nationalities was bound to come apart. Serbia had had a measure of hegemony in the old system. But of the world that loomed over the horizon-privatization and economic reform--the Serbs were less confident. The citizens of Sarajevo and the Croats and the Slovenes had a head start on the rural Serbs. And so the Serbs hacked at the new order of things with desperate abandon.
Some Muslim volunteers came to Bosnia, driven by faith and zeal. Huntington sees in these few stragglers the sweeping power of "civilizational rallying," proof of the hold of what he calls the "kin-country syndrome." This is delusion. No Muslim cavalry was ever going to ride to the rescue. The Iranians may have railed about holy warfare, but the Chetniks went on with their work. The work of order and mercy would have had to be done by the United States if the cruel utopia of the Serbs was to be contested.
It should have taken no powers of prophecy to foretell where the fight in the Balkans would end. The abandonment of Bosnia was of a piece with the ways of the world. No one wanted to die for Srebrenica. The Europeans averted their gaze, as has been their habit. The Americans hesitated for a moment as the urge to stay out of the Balkans did battle with the scenes of horror. Then "prudence" won out. Milosevic and Tudjman may need civilizational legends, but there is no need to invest their projects of conquest with this kind of meaning.
In his urge to find that relentless war across Islam's "bloody borders," Huntington buys Saddam Hussein's interpretation of the Gulf War. It was, for Saddam and Huntington, a civilizational battle. But the Gulf War's verdict was entirely different. For if there was a campaign that laid bare the interests of states, the lengths to which they will go to restore a tolerable balance of power in a place that matters, this was it. A local despot had risen close to the wealth of the Persian Gulf, and a Great Power from afar had come to the rescue. The posse assembled by the Americans had Saudi, Turkish, Egyptian, Syrian, French, British and other riders.
True enough, when Saddam Hussein's dream of hegemony was shattered, the avowed secularist who had devastated the ulama, the men of religion in his country, fell back on Ayatouah Khomeini's language of fire and brimstone and borrowed the symbolism and battle cry of his old Iranian nemesis. But few, if any, were fooled by this sudden conversion to the faith. They knew the predator for what he was: he had a Christian foreign minister (Tariq Aziz); he had warred against the Iranian revolution for nearly a decade and had prided himself on the secularism of his regime. Prudent men of the social and political order, the ulama got out of the way and gave their state the room it needed to check the predator at the Saudi/Kuwaiti border.(5) They knew this was one of those moments when purity bows to necessity. Ten days after Saddam swept into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia's most authoritative religious body, the Council of Higher Ulama, issued a fatwa, or a ruling opinion, supporting the presence of Arab and Islamic and "other friendly forces." All means of defense, the ulama ruled, were legitimate to guarantee the people "the safety of their religion, their wealth, and their honor and their blood, to protect what they enjoy of safety and stability." At some remove, in Egypt, that country's leading religious figure, the Shaykh of Al Ashar, Shaykh Jadd al Haqq, denounced Saddam as a tyrant and brushed aside his Islamic pretensions as a cover for tyranny.
Nor can the chief Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's rhetoric against the Americans during the Gulf War be taken as evidence of Iran's disposition toward that campaign. Crafty men, Iran's rulers sat out that war. They stood to emerge as the principal beneficiaries of Traq's defeat. The American-led campaign against Iraq held out the promise of tilting the regional balance in their favor. No tears were shed in Iran for what befell Saddam Hussein's regime.
It is the mixed gift of living in hard places that men and women know how to distinguish between what they hear and what there is: no illusions were thus entertained in vast stretches of the Arab Muslim world about Saddam, or about the campaign to thwart him for that matter. The fight in the gulf was seen for what it was: a bid for primacy met by an imperial expedition that laid it to waste. A circle was closed in the gulf: where once the order in the region "east of Suez" had been the work of the British, it was now provided by Pax Americana. The new power standing sentry in the gulf belonged to the civilization of the West, as did the prior one. But the American presence had the anxious consent of the Arab lands of the Persian Gulf The stranger coming in to check the kinsmen.
The world of Islam divides and subdivides. The battle lines in the Caucasus, too, are not coextensive with civilizational fault lines. The lines follow the interests of states. Where Huntington sees a civilizational duel between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Iranian state has cast religious zeal and fidelity to the wind. Indeed, in that battle the Iranians have tilted toward Christian Armenia.
THE WRIT OF STATES
We have been delivered into a new world, to be sure. But it is not a world where the writ of civilizations runs. Civilizations and civilizational fidelities remain. There is to them an astonishing measure of permanence. But let us be clear: civilizations do not control states, states control civilizations. States avert their gaze from blood ties when they need to; they see brotherhood and faith and kin when it is in their interest to do so.
We remain in a world of self-help. The solitude of states continues; the disorder in the contemporary world has rendered that solitude more pronounced. No way has yet been found to reconcile France to Pax Americana's hegemony, or to convince it to trust its security or cede its judgment to the preeminent Western power. And no Azeri has come up with a way the lands of Islam could be rallied to the fight over Nagorno Karabakh. The sky has not fallen in Kuala Lumpur or in Tunis over the setbacks of Azerbaijan in its fight with Armenia.
The lesson bequeathed us by Thucydides in his celebrated dialogue between the Melians and the Athenians remains. The Melians, it will be recalled, were a colony of the Lacedaemonians. Besieged by Athens, they held out and were sure that the Lacedaemonians were "bound, if only for very shame, to come to the aid of their kindred." The Melians never wavered in their confidence in their "civilizational" allies: "Our common blood insures our fidelity."(6) We know what became of the Melians. Their allies did not turn up, their island was sacked, their world laid to waste. (1) The West itself is unexamined in Huntington's essay. No fissures run through it. No multicultura are heard from. It is orderly within its ramparts. What doubts Huntington has about the will within the walls, he has kept within himself. He has assumed that his call to unity will be answered, for outside flutter the banners of the Saracens and the Confucians. (2) Kenichi Ohmae, "Global Consumers Want Sony, Not Soil" New Perspectives Quarterly, Fall 1991. (3) Ferdinand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II Vol. II, New York: Harper & Row, 1976, p. 759. (4) Michael Ignatieff, "The Balkan Tragedy," new York Review of Books, May 13, 1993. (5) Huntington quotes one Safar al Hawali, a religious radical at Umm al Qura Univeristy in Mecca, to the effect that the campaign against Iraq was another Western campaign against Islam. But this can't do as evidence. Safar al Hawali was a crank. Among the ulama class and the religious scholars in Saudi Arabia he was, for all practical purposes, a loner. (6) Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, New York: The Modern American Library, 1951, PP. 334-335.
Fouad Ajami is Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Shool of Advanced International Studies, The Jonhs Hopkins University.
Mag.Coll.: 70D0015. Article A13257475
Where are the great powers? At home with the kids. (military policy) Foreign Affairs, July-August 1994 v73 n4 p23(6)
Brief Summary: The great superpowers were once willing to defend their interests, no matter how remote the region in question. Civil wars were thus averted because rebels knew that force would be used to quell any uprising. The situation has changed completely, as the US and other industrialized countries are now unwilling to accept military casualties, and so will not intervene. Lower birth rates have led to an intolerance for deaths in combat. Either a foreign legion or a mercenary infantry will be needed, though neither is likely. The world will just have to learn to ignore atrocities.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT Council on Foreign Relations Inc. 1994
During the Cold War as before it, local and regional conflicts were often instigated or at least encouraged and materially supported by rival great powers. Now, by contrast, the absence of functioning great powers is the cause of the world's inability to cope with all manner of violent disorders. The result is that not only groups of secessionists and aggressive small powers, such as Serbia, but even mere armed bands can now impose their will or simply rampage, unchecked by any greater force from without. Today there is neither the danger of great power wars nor the relative tranquillity once imposed by each great power within its own sphere of influence.
By the traditional definition, great powers were states strong enough to successfully wage war without calling on allies. But that distinction is now outdated, because the issue today is not whether war can be made with or without allies, but whether war can be made at all. Historically, there have been tacit preconditions to great power status: a readiness to use force whenever it was advantageous to do so and an acceptance of the resulting combat casualties with equanimity, as long as the number was not disproportionate.
In the past, those preconditions were too blatantly obvious and too easily satisfied to deserve a mention by either practitioners or theoreticians. Great powers normally relied on intimidation rather than combat, but only because a willingness to use force was assumed. Moreover, they would use force undeterred by the prospect of the ensuing casualties, within limits of course.
The Somalia debacle, precipitated by the loss of 18 U.S. soldiers, and the Haiti fiasco, caused by the fear that a handful of U.S. troops might be killed while defeating that country's military dictatorship, sufficiently exposed the current unreality of the great power concept. In pride or shame, Americans might dispute any wider conclusion from those events. They would like to reserve for themselves the special sensitivity that forces policy to change completely because 18 professional soldiers are killed (soldiers, one might add, who come from a country in which gun-related deaths were last clocked at one every 14 minutes). But in fact the virtue or malady, as the case may be, is far from exclusively American.
Most recently, Britain and France (not to mention that other putative great power, Germany) flatly refused to risk their ground troops in combat to resist aggression in the former Yugoslavia. Overcoming the fear of reprisals against their own troops, it was only with great reluctance, after almost two years of horrific outrages, that the two countries finally consented to the carefully circumscribed threat Of NATO air strikes issued in February 1994. To be sure, neither Britain nor France nor any other European power has any vital interests at stake in the former Yugoslavia. But that is the very essence of the matter: the great powers of history would have viewed the disintegration of Yugoslavia not as a noxious problem to be avoided but as an opportunity to be exploited. Using the need to protect populations under attack as their propaganda excuse and with the restoration of law and order as their ostensible motive, they would have intervened to establish zones of influence for themselves, just as the genuine great powers did in their time (even distant Russia disputed the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908). Thus the power vacuum would have been filled, to the disappointment of local small power ambitions, and to the great advantage of local populations and peace.
As for why nothing of the kind happened in the former Yugoslavia in the face of atrocities not seen since the Second World War, the reason is not in dispute: no European government was any more willing than the U.S. government to risk its soldiers in combat. Of Japan, literary nothing need be said on this score.
The refusal to tolerate combat casualties is not confined to democracies. The Soviet Union was still an intact totalitarian dictatorship when it engaged in the classic great power venture of Afghanistan, only to find that even its tightly regimented society would not tolerate the resulting casualties. At the time, outside observers were distinctly puzzled by the minimal Soviet theater strategy in Afghanistan. After an abortive effort to establish territorial control, the Soviet strategy defended only the largest towns and the ring road that connected them, otherwise conceding almost the entire country to guerrillas. Likewise, knowledgeable observers were astonished by the inordinately prudent tactics of Soviet ground forces. Except for a few commando units, they mostly remained confined inside their fortified garrisons, often failing to sally out even when guerrillas were known to be nearby. At the time, the explanation most commonly offered was the reluctance of Soviet commanders to rely on their poorly trained conscript troops. But there is a better explanation: the Soviet headquarters was under constant and intense pressure from Moscow to avoid casualties at all costs because of the outraged reactions of families and friends.
This example also allows us to eliminate another superficial explanation for the novel refusal to accept even modest numbers of combat casualties: the impact of television coverage. The Soviet Union never allowed its population to see any television images of war like those shown in the United States, and still the reaction of Soviet society to the casualties of the Afghan war was essentially identical to the American reaction to the Vietnam War. Although in both cases cumulative casualties over the span of many years did not reach the casualty figures of one day of battle in past wars, they were nevertheless deeply traumatic.
THE WAR OF ALL MOTHERS
There is a more fundamental explanation that remains valid in cases with or without democratic governance, with or without uncontrolled war reportage by television: the demographic character of modern, postindustrial societies. The populations of the great powers of history were commonly comprised of families of four, five or six children; familles of one, two or three were rarer than families of seven, eight or nine. On the other hand, infant mortality rates were also high. When it was normal to lose one or more children to disease, the loss of one more youngster in war had a different meaning than it has for today's familles, which have two or three children, all of whom are expected to survive, and each of whom represents a larger share of the family's emotional economy.
As any number of historical studies have shown, death itself was a much more normal part of the familial experience when it was not confined mostly to the very old. To lose a young family member for any reason was no doubt always tragic, yet a death in combat was not the extraordinary and fundamentally unacceptable event that it has now become. Parents who commonly approved of their sons' and daughters' decisions to join the armed forces, thereby choosing a career dedicated to combat and its preparation just as a fireman's career is dedicated to the fighting of fires, now often react with astonishment and anger when their children are actually sent into potential combat situations. And they are apt to view their wounding or death as an outrageous scandal, rather than as an occupational hazard.
The Italians, perhaps more post-industrial than most in this sense, with Europe's lowest birthrate, have a word for these reactions: mammismo, which might be translated as "motherism." These attitudes have great political resonance nowadays, powerfully constraining the use of force. The Soviet experience in Afghanistan proves that the constraint can become operative even without a mass media eager to publicize private grief, members of Congress ready to complain at the instance of relatives, or pointed questions being asked in a parliament.
Present attitudes toward combat losses that derive from the new family demography are powerful because they are not confined to the relatives and friends of servicemen on active duty. They are shared throughout society--and were shared even within the Soviet elite, it turns out--generating an extreme reluctance to impose a possible sacrifice that has become so much greater than it was when national populations were perhaps much smaller but families were much larger.
What of the Gulf War, then, or for that matter Britain's war to reconquer the Falklands? Do they not suggest a much simpler explanation: that attitudes depend on the perceived importance of the undertakking, he objective value of what is at stake, or--more realistically--the sheer ability of political leaders to justify the necessity of combat? After all, even during World War II, soldiers greatly resented assignments to what were described as secondary fronts, quickly dubbing any theater that was less than highly publicized as "forgotten." The less immediately compelling the justification, the more likely combat and its casualties are to be opposed. It might therefore seem that the new 2.2-children-per-family demographics and the resulting mammismo are irrelevant, that what counts is only what has always counted, namely the importance of the interests at stake, the political orchestration of the event and plain leadership.
Those contentions undoubtedly have some merit, but much less than meets the eye. In the first place, if lives can only be placed at risk in situations already dramatically prominent on the national scene, hence on a larger rather than a smaller scale, and only in final extremities, that in itself already rules out the most efficient use of force--early and on a small scale to prevent escalation.
In the past, there was no question of limiting the use of force to situations in which genuinely vital interests, that is, survival interests, were at stake. To struggle for mere survival was the unhappy predicament of threatened small powers, which had to fight purely to defend themselves and could not hope to achieve anything more with their modest strength. Great powers were different; they could only remain great if they were seen as willing and able to use force to acquire and protect even non-vital interests, including distant possessions or minor additions to their spheres of influence. To lose a few hundred soldiers in some minor probing operation or a few thousand in a small war or expeditionary venture were routine events for the great powers of history.
Great powers are in the business of threatening, rather than being threatened. A great power cannot be that unless it asserts all sorts of claims that far exceed the needs of its own immediate security, including the protection of allies and clients as well as other less-than-vital interests. It must therefore risk combat for purposes that may be fairly recondite, perhaps in little-known distant lands, but definitely in situations in which it is not compelled to fight but rather deliberately chooses to do so. And that is the choice now denied by the fear of casualties.
Even now, exceptional strivings by exceptionally determined leaders skilled in the art of political leadership can widen a great power's freedom of action, overcoming at least in part the effects of the new family demographics. That was obviously the case in the Persian Gulf intervention and the Falklands reconquest; both would have been impossible undertakings had it not been for the exceptional leadership of President George Bush and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, respectively. Their leadership was the decisive factor, not the undoubted significance of keeping Iraq from controlling Saudi and Kuwaiti oil, or the equally undoubted insignificance of the Falklands for any practical purpose whatsoever (another illustration of the irrelevance of the "objective" value of whatever is at stake).
Leadership is important, but that consideration cuts both ways, because the routine functioning of a great power cannot depend on the fortuitous presence of exceptional leadership. It will be recalled, moreover, that a very low opinion of Argentine military strength (indeed, a gross underestimate of Argentine air power) and the resulting belief that casualties would be very low were crucial to Britain's commitment to war in the Falklands. Likewise, the imperative of minimizing casualties was the leitmotiv of the entire Persian Gulf intervention, from the initial deployment, which was originally presented as purely defensive, to the sudden decision to call off the ground war. (To be sure, there were other considerations as well, notably the fear that Iran would become the next threat if Iraq's army were utterly destroyed.) In any case, it seems clear that the freedom of action gained by successful leadership was still very narrow; it is not hard to guess what would have happened to President Bush and his administration if the casualties of the Persian Gulf venture had reached the levels of any one day of serious fighting in either world war.
NATIONS OF FAMILIES
If the significance of the new family demographics is accepted, it follows that no advanced low-birth-rate countries can play the role of a classic great power anymore, not the United States or Russia, not Britain, France or, least of all, Germany or Japan. They may still possess the physical attributes of military strength or the economic base to develop such strength even on a great scale, but their societies are so allergic to casualties that they are effectively debellicized, or nearly so.
Aside from self-defense and exceptional cases a la the Persian Gulf War, only such conflict as can take place without soldiers is likely to be tolerated. Much can be done by air power, with few lives at risk, especially if bureaucratic resistance to the use of air power alone can be overcome. Sea power too can be useful at times, and robotic weapons will be used increasingly. But Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti remind us that the typical great power business of restoring order still requires ground forces. In the end, the infantry, albeit mechanized, is still indispensable, although now mostly withheld by the fear of casualties. It is true of course that high-birth-rate countries can still fight wars by choice, and several have in recent years. But even those very few among them that have competent armed forces lack other key great power attributes, including any significant strategic reach.
In the absence of functioning great powers, the entire character of world politics has changed. Under the old machtpolitih rules, for example, the United States should have been eager to extend its military influence to the Russian border by granting fall NATO membership to Poland and other former Warsaw Pact countries. Instead the United States opposed NATO's expansion. In the central arena of world affairs, only the commercial and industrial policies that I have elsewhere labeled "geo-economic" still have a recognizably conflictual flavor.
Unless the world is content to cohabit with chronic disorder and widespread violence, a synthetic version of law-and-order interventionism by great powers will have to be invented. The remedies we already have are certainly inadequate. To keep the armed forces of the United States as powerful as possible--the preferred military option, of course--is ineffectual when intimidation will not do it, yet the United States refuses to fight. And U.S. ability to intimidate cannot but decline as the word spreads.
Two rather improbable schemes are therefore left. Both satisfy the essential requirement of circumventing the intolerance of casualties. Both could be organized quite efficiently, given the will to do so. Yet both would be furiously opposed by the military establishment, and both undeniably have unpleasant moral connotations.
One scheme would be to copy the Ghurka model, recruiting troops in some suitable region abroad, if not in Nepal itself. They would be mercenaries, of course, but they would be of high quality, and a common ethnic origin would assure their basic cohesion. In practice, U.S. Ghurkas would provide the infantry units, with native U.S. forces providing the more technical forms of combat support involving smaller risks and fewer casualties.
The alternative is to copy the foreign legion model, with units that combine U.S. officers and nonnative volunteers who have renounced their national allegiance, perhaps attracted by the offer of U.S. citizenship after a given term of service. Under both schemes, political responsibility for any casualties would be much reduced, even if not eliminated. The United States, by the way, raised ethnic mercenary units in Indochina with rather good results, and it recruited individual foreign volunteers for Europe-based special forces. So neither scheme is as outlandish or unprecedented as it may seem. Still, one would not want to bet that they would be seriously considered, let alone adopted.
If no remedy can be found for the passing of the great powers and the conspicuous inability of the United States itself to play that role, both the United States and the world had better become habituated to the consequences. Violent disorders unchecked by effective great power interventions have both immediate and delayed effects, including disrupted export markets, refugees and new sources of international crime and terrorism. But Americans will also have to learn not to see, hear or feel much that would otherwise offend their moral sensitivities. Richer inhabitants of the poorest countries learn from childhood how to step politely over the quadruple-amputee beggar in their path without ever actually looking at him, and how not to see the starving mother and child, the waif and the abandoned elderly who try to beg from them as they walk into a restaurant or bank. Blindness can be learned, and Americans will have to learn how to passively ignore avoidable tragedies and horrific atrocities. The experience of Bosnia-Herzegovina shows that Americans have already made much progress in that direction.
Edward N. Luttwak is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He is the author
of The Endangered American Dream. Article A15533446
Abstract: Despite the success of the US in the Persian Gulf war, thoughts that now that the Soviet Union is gone the US could impose its will through military intervention around the world have failed to materialize. While the US may indeed be the world's only remaining superpower, unilateral action promoting self-interest could have strong repercussions. Among the contingencies that would justify the use of force are the protection of allies and meeting alliance obligation, supporting democracy and countering proliferation.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1995
One of the most difficult questions in American foreign policy is the use of force--its legitimacy, its utility, its desirability. A run for the White House requires that a candidate address it, and a successful candidate is often not considered a successful president until he actually employs it.
But it may be that the nature of the political debate on the use of force will soon change. It may be that the very purpose for which American leaders threaten the use of force has shifted without many people paying much attention.
The combination of the Persian Gulf war and the demise of Soviet communism had a profound impact on U.S. discussions of the use of force. For a while it seemed as though the U.S. military had been liberated--or at least many observers implied that it had. The United States, it was suggested, was the world's sole remaining superpower. It could intervene wherever it wished without worrying that global rivals would back the other side and risk escalation into a global conflagration.
The Gulf war's demonstration of astounding new technology contributed to the view that the use of force for policy goals was now far more feasible. Soon-to-be secretary of defense Les Aspin noted in a September 21, 1992, speech that in the Gulf war it often took only a few bombs to destroy a target, whereas in Vietnam it required an average of 175 and in World War II, 9,000. A former Defense Department official who calculated casualties after the Gulf war wrote that the experience in Kuwait suggested the possibility of "war without excessive brutality." (See John Heidenrich, "The Gulf War: How Many Iraqis Died?" in FOREIGN POLICY 90.)
For many, the vision was intoxicating. America had arrived at its "unipolar moment," according to conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. Aspin predicted that the United States could now develop a military force "flexible enough to do a number of simultaneous, smaller contingencies."
As the Clinton administration approached its third year, such widely shared optimism seemed badly misplaced. It is important to understand the reasons: The demise of the Soviet Union did not give the United States the clear international field that was earlier predicted; the new consensus failed to take into account whether the gains derived from the use of force had remained constant--in fact, they have gone down; and it failed to acknowledge that the reasons for using force had changed. Earlier, the purpose was deterrence and ensuring acceptable external behavior. Now, it is increasingly becoming compellence and appropriate internal behavior.
A CLEAR FIELD?
Although it is true that the United States no longer has the Soviet Union to worry about, it is not necessarily the case that the United States can intervene wherever it wishes without worrying about the involvement of third parties. The U.S. experience in Lebanon should have sobered those inclined to be bellicose. The Reagan administration, believing its own campaign rhetoric about the efficacy of force and the importance of political will, deployed U.S. troops in Lebanon without consideration of Syrian interests. It also believed that the actual use of force would intimidate the opponents of a government it had decided to favor in a vicious civil war. Those costly mistakes led to a humiliating withdrawal 17 months later.
Nor, as the crisis with North Korea has demonstrated clearly, does America have a completely free hand in Northeast Asia. There is a limit beyond which Washington cannot push North Korea without worrying about the reactions of communist China, Japan, and South Korea. China has not hesitated to clarify that its alliance with North Korea remains in force. It has threatened to veto proposals for economic sanctions that may come before the Security Council. Japan and South Korea have indicated great unease with a policy that might bring conflict to the peninsula.
Along the periphery of Russia, the reaction of the Kremlin is one reason why the U.S. response to Russian peacekeeping efforts in the "near abroad" has been muted, to say the least. In South Asia, any outside military activity must take into account India's reaction. That reality was brought home to Americans when the Nixon administration ordered the USS Enterprise to enter the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 Bangladesh crisis. India's strong political reaction made many Americans aware for the first time that India was developing into a serious regional power.
Indeed, in most parts of the world except the Western Hemisphere and perhaps the Persian Gulf, there is a regional power whose opposition to U.S. intervention could make the exercise of force much more difficult to carry out successfully unless one assumes that air power alone would be sufficient. So while the disappearance of the Soviet Union is an important consideration in calculating the utility of the use of force, there are other actors whose policies Washington must take into account.
Nor does greater precision in delivery of weapons necessarily clear the way for a more ready resort to force. It is not at all certain that others calculate the costs of resistance as U.S. policymakers hope they will. As advanced countries have repeatedly leamed, in a struggle between the technically sophisticated and unsophisticated, there is often a mismatch in political determination just as large as there is in technical capability. The West in general has a high capacity to kill but a low capacity to die. The equation is often reversed among the targets of the West's wrath. America learned about the differences between capacity and determination in Vietnam, the French learned in Algeria, and the Russians in Afghanistan. And that is the overlooked lesson of U.S. involvement in Somalia. The task the United States set for itself was not infeasible, but the Clinton administration grossly underestimated the price others were willing to pay to stop the U.S. Marines. CIA officials privately concede that the U.S. military may have killed from 7,000 to 10,000 Somalis during its engagement. America lost only 34 soldiers. Notwithstanding that extraordinary disparity, the decision was to withdraw.
For most of history, wars have been a paying proposition. The victor gained land, wealth, or trade. Most of America's wars, in fact, have been over land. Washington was either seeking it or trying to bar others from taking it.
The Cold War was different. That war was a struggle over regimes. The Soviets wanted to change America's and America wanted to change theirs. Neither side sought more land, at least after the spoils of the Second World War had been distributed. Rather, each side sought more allies.
How can we characterize today's world? Today, despite several serious internal conflicts now raging at various points around the globe, the international system seems structurally stable for the first time since 1815. There are several reasons for the transformation.
The first is that none of the great powers seek additional land (though there remain small border disputes, like that between Russia and Japan over the Kurile Islands). Nor does any great power challenge the political legitimacy of the others. Some might say that Russia is a possible exception because so many Russians live in neighboring states and Russia is concerned about their fate. Yet the surprise has been that, thus far, Russia has accepted that its Russian or Russian-speaking brothers and sisters living in the near abroad should become citizens of those countries, even if it insists that neighboring states not discriminate against their Russian speakers and at times urges dual citizenship. China has minor border disputes with its neighbors, but none of them seem non-negotiable. And the decision of the Clinton administration to renew most-favored-nation trading status for China and end the policy link between trade and human rights was an acknowledgement that even if America is not comfortable with China's political system, it does not challenge it.
The second reason for the underlying stability in the international structure is that today most major states seek greater power not through external expansion--the historical route--but through internal development. The salient models for other countries are no longer expansionist countries like Great Britain or France during the age of colonialism but nonexpansionist states like Japan, the United States, or some of the Southeast Asian tigers.
The ideological crusades are over. The Clinton administration's proclaimed doctrine of democratic enlargement is a hope, not a policy. America today largely tends its own garden, its occasional indignation over human rights violations notwithstanding. So do other great powers.
Another reason for the historical discontinuity through which we are passing is that the recent record of states seeking greater power through external expansion is so poor. Argentina failed to seize the Falklands. Iraq failed to seize and hold part of Iran and subsequently all of Kuwait. Libya was forced to relinquish part of Chad. Somalia failed to seize part of Ethiopia.
Nor does the negative record on the use of force end there. More powerful states recently attempting to control the internal political structure of key countries through overt force also have failed--the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, India in Sri Lanka, and Israel and Syria in Lebanon. The only "successful" uses of large-scale military force in recent years for political purposes have been the U.S. conquests of Grenada and Panama, and even there press reports suggest that the internal situation is now worse, or no better, than before the intervention.
That record of repeated failure in the use of force is in part explained by the inability of conquering states to gain compliance from subject populations. For most of history, when a state conquered a new province, the inhabitants of that province respected the wishes of their new ruler. That practice could even extend into religion-"cuius est regio, illius est religio." But nowhere in today's world does such mass compliance take place. On the contrary, populations struggle on for years, even decades--the nbetans against the Chinese, the East Timorese against the Indonesians, the Palestinians against the Israelis, the Kashmiris against the Indians. Of course, if states are allowed to carry out the kind of ethnic cleansing or forced integration that has been the norm in past centuries, then the seizure of land from a neighbor can turn out to be a rational decision. That is what the issues of settlements in the West Bank or ethnic cleansing in Bosnia have been all about. But if ethnic cleansing or forced integration is not possible, then one of the principal objectives of war disappears, because today, unlike yesterday, subjugated populations are not compliant.
SEVEN CATEGORIES OF FORCE
Today, there appear to be seven distinct categories for the possible use of force by the United States:
* meeting alliance obligations
* promoting counterproliferation
* protecting key allies threatened with internal disorder
* protecting individual Americans
* supporting democracies abroad
* interdicting drugs and countering terrorism
* assisting peacekeeping and peace enforcement.
Ironically, the last, peacekeeping, is by far the most needed, yet it is the task that the United States is the least prepared to undertake. As a result, the United States suffers from a mismatch between capabilities and requirements.
Meeting Alliance Obligations
In theory the United States is obligated through treaties to protect most of Latin America, much of Europe, and a good part of Asia against external attack. The fact is that none of America's allies, except possibly South Korea, are threatened with attack. The Russian threat in Europe will not reappear for years even in the worst scenario. Because of draft-dodging, the Russian army may soon end up with more officers than enlisted personnel. Weapons procurement has been cut to a fraction of Cold War levels. The poor Russian military performance in Chechnya is revealing. Russia would need at least a decade to reestablish its internal cohesion before it could threaten America's treaty allies with a conventional conquest.
Nor does nuclear blackmail remain a serious worry. Blackmail must have a purpose. As long as the two superpowers engaged in a gLobal struggle for influence, the United States had to worry that the Soviet Union would use nuclear blackmail to push European states into a neutral or pro-Soviet stand. But Russia has become a "normal" country seeking normal foreign policy objectives--security and economic development. It is difficult to imagine Russia's threatening France with a nuclear strike in order to gain trade privileges. It is true that the United States must worry about new nuclear states such as India, Israel, Pakistan, and perhaps North Korea, but none of those states have global ambitions. With the possible exception of India, none even have regional ambitions. Most have acquired nuclear weapons in order to combat the overwhelming military or demographic challenges of their neighbors.
What about other security threats to the United States? Say, sub version in Latin America? In the Western Hemisphere, the Cuban/Soviet threat has ended. Not only has Cuba lost the support of Moscow, which enabled Cuban officials to develop a continental or even transcontinental reach, but the country has lost its allure as an alternative model. There is no immediate security threat to the treaty allies of the United States in the Western Hemisphere.
Now, the purpose of threatening the use of force is not deterrence but compellence.
There is one clear security threat for the United States today. It is in Asia. North Korea's apparent nuclear ambitions together with America's treaty commitment to South Korea create an explosive situation. America has 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea. The United States is anxious to prevent North Korea from developing a major nuclear weapons program and has signed a sweeping agreement with North Korea to provide it with safer nuclear energy technology in return for North Korean abandonment of its nuclear weapons program. The inevitable difficulties in implementing this complicated agreement with a suspicious, well-armed opponent pose the most pressing crisis in the world for the United States, but it exists in part because recent administrations have allowed partisan politics at home to prevent the United States from looking out for its own security interests. It is preposterous that the United States should have to assist in the land defense of a country (South Korea) that is twice as populous and 10 times as rich as its northern brother. But ever since Jimmy Carter reversed his campaign pledge to remove U.S. troops from Korea, which was probably premature, the American ground commitment to South Korea has been politically inviolate. Clinton even went so far when he was in South Korea to tell that country's legislators that U.S. troops would remain in South Korea as long as the South Korean people "want" as well as "need" them. Once the current crisis is past, the United States should step back from this foolish statement, which places too much of the initiative in Seoul's hands, and press South Korea to assume, over time, full responsibility for land defense with the United States progressively fulfilling its treaty obligation through air and sea power.
Indeed, over the longer run there is now only one area of the world where the United States must be ready to fight a land war virtually unassisted by the states in the area, and that is the Persian Gulf. None of the states there will be prepared to confront Iraq or Iran for the foreseeable future; and in the wake of the most recent Gulf war, the United States has assumed the role of regional gendarme, a role it cannot abandon until the regimes in Tehran and Baghdad either fall or radically change policies.
The "Defense Counterproliferation Initiative" is an important policy priority of the Clinton administration. Clearly, with the end of the Cold War and of the Soviet-U.S. nuclear standoff, the most pressing long-run issue in international security for the United States is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These could be the great equalizers of international relations, robbing the United States of the benefits of being the sole remaining superpower. If Libya, for example, had a handful of deliverable nuclear weapons, the entire diplomatic relationship between Washington and Tripoli might be transformed. Tripoli probably could not seriously threaten the United States, but it could threaten allies so that the United States would have to treat the Libyan regime with greater respect than it does now. The same could be said about a number of other states that are hostile to the United States.
Would nuclear weapons be more dangerous in the hands of Third World states than in those of the great powers? The principal assumption behind much counterproliferation concern is that the answer is yes, but the breakup of the Soviet Union should give pause. Nonetheless, the possession of nuclear weapons by new states would necessarily reduce the margin of U.S. power in the world. There is also the fear, whether valid or not, that a Kim Il Sung or Iranian ayatollah might not care about the fate of his own country or people and would someday decide to use a nuclear weapon against the United States or one of its allies in a fit of irrationality. And, of course, the more widespread nuclear weapons become, the greater the risk of an accident or seizure of weapons by some outlaw or terrorist group. In short, in the post-Cold War period, any U.S. administration will have a very strong nonproliferation policy.
The issue is what one can realistically do about the issue of proliferation in a military sense. States have learned from the Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear facilities--which was only temporarily successful because it merely persuaded the Iraqis to move their program underground. Now all potential proliferants understand that they must not expose their programs to preemptive attack. In addition, according to most experts, a military answer in Korea is difficult. As Peter Rodman, former deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs in the Bush administration, pointed out in a November 1993 conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "In the case of North Korea, the use of strikes is complicated by the difficulty of locating the right targets or preventing devastating retaliation by the North Koreans. Some people I respect, who are relatively hawkish on the issue in general, say that the military options are no good." Very senior Pentagon officials confirm that the North Koreans possess deeply protected artillery that could devastate Seoul in the event of war.
In a December 1993 briefing to the press, Pentagon officials hinted that American preemptive strikes against North Korea, similar to those of Israel against Iraq in June 1981, were being considered. But in March 1994, Ashton Carter, the assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, stated that those who believed that Washington might bomb nuclear facilities of potential proliferants had "misunderstood" Washington's intentions.
This author is not in a position to know the administration's true intentions. It is known that the administration is pressing ahead with efforts to develop special weapons that can penetrate the kind of concrete bunkers that are used to house nuclear facilities. Certainly, the United States will continue to keep open military options, however unpromising now, for a preemptive strike in the cause of counterproliferation. It will also continue to work on developing theater antiballistic weapons that could disarm a potential proliferant. But at this point a sensible nonproliferation policy would seem to rely more on diplomacy than force. The United States cannot police an uncooperative world. It is in the American interest to strengthen the nonproliferation regime in all its aspects, increasing the incentives for compliance while reducing the benefits from violation. Working for a comprehensive nuclear test ban, extending the nonproliferation treaty, and implementing the compromise with North Korea involving recognition and trade in exchange for a freeze in its nuclear weapons program seem better ways to serve U.S. interests than any early use of force to further the nonproliferation cause.
Protection of Key States Threatened with Internal Disorder
Some states in the world are so important to the United States that Washington would at least consider the use of military power to preserve the status quo domestically as well as internationally. Former secretary of defense James Schlesinger has suggested that the U.S. relationship with the Saudi Kingdom is now comparable in importance to the U.S. relationship with Germany. Although the United States has no treaty obligation to protect Saudi Arabia from external attack or internal disorder, President Ronald Reagan on October 1, 1981, did state that the United States would "never" let Saudi Arabia be come another Iran: "There is no way that we could stand by and see that taken over by anyone that would shut off that oil." American policy during the Gulf war confirmed that, whatever the treaty obligations might be, the United States would use force if necessary to protect the Saudi Kingdom against external aggression. America may even be prepared to take military action to prevent internal change if a sensible option for the use of force seems available.
There are other states in the world that the United States, if it had the option, might consider using military force to protect even without treaty obligations. The United States has invested close to $100 billion in support of the Middle East peace process. The overthrow of the Egyptian government by Islamic forces would be a diplomatic setback for the United States comparable to the downfall of the Shah of Iran. Particularly with the memory of that setback in mind, the United States could be expected at least to consider using military power to help an imperiled Egyptian government if any option made sense. Of course, the Gulf countries should be added to that list. Since the Gulf war, the United States has become the defender of the status quo in the area. Washington certainly would react in the case of external aggression. What it would or could do in the case of an internal uprising is less clear.
There are other countries, such as a number of key states in Central and Eastern Europe, that the United States might judge sufficiently important to consider some form of military response if internal developments threatened to bring to power a government hostile to the United States. But the strong likelihood is that in the end Washington would do nothing of a significant military nature.
The ideal model for assisting an ally faced with internal disorder would be President George Bush's decision to save the Aquino regime in the Philippines by ordering U.S. aircraft to fly over Manila on December 1, 1989, in an implicit threat to those threatening to overthrow the government. The effort was low key and successful. No Americans died and few were even at risk. But it is doubtful if military intervention would be as successful in the other countries of special concern to the United States. It is even doubtful that the United States could carry out a similar operation in the Philippines today. When Bush gave his order, the United States still had military personnel stationed on Philippine soil. In addition, the United States enjoyed a positive reputation among the Filipino people. In most of the cases in question, the United States enjoys little or no advantage in terms of military intervention. It is revealing that when the Saudi monarch was threatened by religious riots in Mecca in 1979, the king drew on French commandos to help him restore order. Allowing Americans in the Holy City was seen as too risky.
So while it remains true that there are several countries of sufficient geopolitical interest for American officials to consider using force to preserve the status quo, a hard look at the realities suggests that U.S. options are few.
Support for Democracies Abroad
When U.N. ambassador Madeleine Albright delivered the Clinton administration's position on the "Use of Force in a Post-Cold War World" before the National War College on September 23, 1993, she mentioned four problems that might require the use of force: the spread of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, ethnic violence, and the fall of democracy. She specifically mentioned Haiti as an example of the last.
Among the democracies abroad with which the United States has no formal security ties but that might well attract American forces in its defense is Israel. United by democratic values and intimate intergovernmental and societal ties, the two countries are as close to the status of allies as it is possible to be without the formal designation. Indeed, the lack of that formal designation continues because there are unbalanced advantages and disadvantages to the current arrangement. The lack of a treaty arrangement frees Israel from the obligation to consult with the United States about its own military actions. That deprives the United States of the ability to stop actions it op poses but also spares it the obligation to confront Israel publicly when the interests of the two countries diverge.
But the administration has suggested a grander commitment to democracy. Its off-and-on-again approach to Haiti has suggested that it is prepared in some circumstances to use force to reestablish democracy in a country where it has been overthrown. In Presidential Decision Directive 25, one justification for the dispatch of U.N. or other peacekeeping troops is the restoration of democracy. No doubt, if a viable military option existed, America would intervene to protect democratic forces in Mexico against an authoritarian alternative if that alternative threatened to become anti-American.
But a review of U.S. policy toward Haiti suggests that, official rhetoric notwithstanding, the United States will be very reluctant to use force to restore democracy to a friendly country. The Clinton administration did send troops to occupy Haiti and as of early 1995 the operation has gone much better than most observers expected, but congressional opposition to U.S. military action in Haiti has remained robust even though the Haitian government agreed to allow the U.S. troops to land unopposed. In light of congressional views, it is difficult to imagine how the executive branch can build a national consensus for a lengthy occupation of Haiti, yet that is what seems to be required. And if Washington finds it so difficult to act in Haiti, which is so close to U.S. shores and the source of thousands of unwanted refugees, it is unlikely to act elsewhere to "restore democracy." Beyond a very small circle of states, the use of force to restore democracy is going to be primarily through U.N. or other types of peacekeeping, and Presidential Decision Directive 25 makes it clear that U.S. participation in United Nations peacekeeping will be minimal.
Protecting Individuals and Countering Drugs and Terrorism
There will always be a military requirement for the United States to protect its citizens overseas. Approximately 2.5 million Americans live abroad, of whom nearly 100,000 reside outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries where they can count on protection from the local government. But even in non-Western countries American citizens must depend on the local police. They cannot expect the Marines to help in more than a handful of situations.
Criminal acts of terrorism will be another concern of the U.S. military. But except on rare occasions where the U.S. government can trace a pattern of terrorist actions back to an accountable state--as Washington believes it has been able to do with Libya--there is no large-scale military response to terrorism. Good intelligence and police work are more important than military force.
Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement
Ironically, the greatest requirement for the use of American force is in the one area where the United States is most skittish--namely peacekeeping and peace enforcement. There has been a veritable explosion of intrastate conflicts in recent years. According to U.N. figures, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, 82 conflicts have broken out around the world. But only three of those have been interstate. Seventy-nine were civil wars. And of the three interstate wars, Bosnia and Nagorno-Karabakh are regarded by many as civil wars.
In most of the internal conflicts one can imagine a constructive role for outside mediation and observation if not peace enforcement. Yet the recent evolution in U.S. policy has made it more and more unlikely that America will play a constructive role in that area.
The United States by some estimates will be spending more for defense in the coming four years than the rest of the world combined. Yet Washington's real defense needs do not seem to require that effort unless America wishes to become much more directly involved in curtailing intrastate ethnic strife and civil war.
In that regard, the position of the Clinton administration and the Congress on peacekeeping is scarcely reassuring. The early rhetoric suggested that the United States had a major interest in trying to intervene to manage such conflicts. But the recent Presidential Decision Directive 25 is greatly watered down from earlier versions and adopts criteria so restrictive that they would seem to bar the kind of U.N. force that has successfully monitored the ceasefire on the Golan Heights. Yet that very modest directive is facing major resistance in Congress, which has been hesitant to fund new peacekeeping operations. Both branches of government have been so timid about peacekeeping that using U.S. ground troops in NATO for European peacekeeping is ruled out unless they operate in circumstances that eliminate all risk. It is difficult to see how the United States is going to remain a European power if it refuses to participate in the one form of military activity that is the most needed in Europe today.
THE ISSUE OF COMPELLENCE
Yet even if the greatest need for U.S. forces is peacekeeping and peace enforcement in intrastate conflicts, that fact by itself does not help policymakers decide when it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate for the United States to intervene in ethnic disputes. What are the differences between interstate conflict and intrastate conflict that U.S. policymakers should understand before they consider the use of force?
For most American decision makers, the relevant paradigm for the use of force is the Cold War, with whose rules and regulations they are most familiar because they were similar to those of previous interstate conflicts. According to this paradigm, accountable governments maneuver around one another using the tools of diplomacy and deterrence. Each side attempts to influence the other through a series of veiled or open threats. Each side rationally calculates the odds and usually remains "deterred." Military power in steadily increasing amounts seems highly relevant to the conduct of policy because there is little danger that the weapons might be used; yet if deterrence fails, the more weapons the better. No effort is made to influence internal behavior. Indeed, it is not difficult to imagine how quickly the Cold War would have become a hot one had either Moscow or Washington threatened to use force to change the internal political order in either country--for instance, to end the Gulag or force immediate equal rights for black Americans.
Does that model for the use of force fit the situations American decision makers face today in places like Bosnia or Georgia or Somalia? Generally speaking, those conflicts do involve intrastate struggles. Statesmen are trying to change internal behavior, not external behavior. They often are not dealing with clearly accountable actors. Nor are the actors always rational. It was not rational for General Mohammad Farah Aidid to resist American demands at such a high price. But he and his people were willing to pay the price. It has not been rational for the Bosnian Serbs to carry out many of their actions, but the bitter memory of World War Il, when so many Serbs died at the hands of Croats and Muslims, has driven them into a frenzy. It is not rational for Armenians to ethnically cleanse Azeris from Nagomo-Karabakh because it will prolong the war, but the outside world has little influence on the Armenian leadership.
In traditional interstate conflicts, the number of rational and accountable leaders on each side can be identified and is limited. A handful of officials at the top are able to give orders and have them obeyed. These officials order troops to fight and they order troops to lay down their arms. Usually, the troops follow orders. That fact dramatically influences the way that the international community orchestrates its efforts at preventive diplomacy or humanitarian aid. The United Nations, regional organizations, and neighboring states attempt to pressure the small circle of accountable leaders to persuade them to follow a conciliatory policy. Those efforts may or may not be successful, but no one doubts where pressure must be directed. That is what Washington has been trying to do in North Korea. But who are the real leaders in Bosnia or Haiti or Somalia? Can the Bosnian Serb leaders successfully order their troops to cease fighting? Can the Bosnian government command Muslim soldiers to stop struggling to return to homes from which they were driven by force?
In fact, in many intrastate conflicts, popular passions make elite compromise difficult. Conflicts become less a matter of calculation at the top than of mass emotion at the bottom. Leaders may rise up to exploit those emotions, but the kind of leadership they display resembles a man running ahead of a stampeding herd who maintains that he is in charge. He may be able to lead the herd to move to the right or the left but he cannot halt it. If he turns around to stop it, he will be trampled.
In intrastate conflicts, religious or ethnic hatred is often so strong that dialogue becomes virtually impossible. The opposing side is unfortunately viewed as almost subhuman. Extermination of the heretic, expulsion of the outsider is declared to be God's work or a patriot's duty. It is suggested that if the other side prevails, one's own side may well disappear. Only one way of life is likely to survive. In such situations, all individuals, old or young, male or female, are identified as combatants. The Indians in the American West knew that the arrival of an unarmed farm family was in effect a declaration of war. It was the advance troop of a larger army to follow that would make the traditional Indian way of life impossible.
Several centuries ago in Ireland, the Catholic inhabitants may well have viewed Protestant settlers as an even greater threat to the welfare and security of the Catholic Irish than the British soldiers who protected those settlers. The settlers represented another way of life that would suppress or even eradicate their own. The struggle was therefore to the knife.
Modern ethnic and religious conflicts regrettably have not lost this savage character. Palestinians and Israeli settlers on the West Bank or various ethnic groups in Bosnia struggle like the ancient Irish and for many of the same reasons. Each outsider, no matter how young or infirm, is seen as a mortal danger. That is the rationale for "ethnic cleansing," which has persisted throughout history.
Another characteristic of internal conflicts is that each side seeks total victory. Surrender is almost always unconditional. Victory for one means oblivion for the other. There is therefore a desperate quality to civil wars that makes them particularly hard to control once they start. In such struggles, when accountable actors do step forward and adopt unpopular positions, they often find that their own lives are in danger. The United States suffered terribly from its civil war, but it did have the good fortune that when one side prevailed, the losing army was commanded by a leader who could order his troops to cease fighting and gain compliance. Robert E. Lee deserves his reputation for greatness because he told his generals it was time to stop fighting and restore the nation. In many other civil wars such calming advice is not given or is not accepted. The leaders of the Irish up rising during and after World War I knew it was risky to seek a compromise with the British. Michael Collins, the Irish guerrilla leader, presciently stated that he had signed his own death warrant when he agreed to leave the six most northern counties under British control. He was assassinated eight months later. The Palestinians over the years have eliminated leaders who threatened to compromise with Israel. Today, Yasir Arafat may be in danger. Afghanistan, Somalia, and Bosnia suffer in part because it is difficult to identify accountable actors. There are too many who claim to be accountable but cannot deliver their people. Those who truly try may be pushed aside or eliminated. It is instructive that in Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic is not the most extreme proponent of Serbian nationalism.
Since the main problem in the world today is not interstate aggression but ethnic or civil conflict, how can we deal with it? There are three options for the international community when a civil, ethnic, or religious war breaks out: victory by the stronger party, compelling all parties to compromise by the introduction of outside force, or an attempt to encourage power-sharing.
Letting the stronger side win is often the most effective option. It is, in fact, the option the international community traditionally has taken. Compellence is required, however, if outside powers are not prepared to see the stronger side win. Deterrence is unlikely to work precisely because the goal of the international community is to change internal behavior, not external behavior. Such an effort requires either peacekeeping or peace enforcement. In short, it entails risks. If the two sides acquiesce in the peacekeeping force, a ceasefire can be frozen in place and the risks are relatively low. An example is the U.N. peacekeeping force in Cyprus. If the two sides do not agree to the deployment, then a form of U.N. or other protectorate must be established and the risks begin to rise. Overall, compellence by military force is a daunting task that neither the international community nor the United States will often be willing to undertake. But if the task is never undertaken, then the international community is really saying that allowing the stronger to prevail is its only effective option. It is saying that there are no geopolitical consequences to internal change resulting from ethnic conflict that are sufficiently grave to merit the use of force. The 79 conflicts the U.N. secretariat has identified must simply be allowed to burn out.
A third option is power-sharing. But it must be recognized that parties in conflict usually will be reluctant to accept power-sharing until some rough balance of power has been achieved through either their own efforts or outside pressure. That is what happened in South Africa, when that country abandoned apartheid. There was no way to get a peaceful solution in South Africa except through power-sharing. Calling for winner-take-all democratic elections cannot solve such ethnic conflicts. Indeed, elections may even trigger conflict, as in Bosnia, where the West foolishly encouraged a referendum on independence that the Serb population boycotted.
Other approaches to ethnic conflict besides compellence must be explored. Ethnic problems in places like the Crimea or Kosovo cannot be solved with the approaches now under discussion. Secession in either case will bring on war. Ukraine will not permit Crimea to secede, and Serbia will not permit Kosovo to join Albania. But efforts to improve the human rights of Russians in Crimea or Albanians in Kosovo are also unlikely to work. Success in enhancing their rights is unlikely ever to be enough. To avoid permanent crisis, new, previously untouchable concepts like dual citizenship or shared sovereignty need to be introduced into the dialogue.
To avoid recurring conflict, the international community must also encourage closer economic and political ties among key states in the regions of conflict. In the case of Ukraine and Russia, fear of encouraging a restoration of the Soviet Union has prevented the West from encouraging closer ties between the two republics. But since neither will ever be allowed into the European Union and Ukrainian nationalism seems too strong to permit reabsorption in a Moscow-dominated polity, encouragement of closer ties seems prudent--both to prevent conflict and to improve the welfare of both countries. The Balkans seem even more resistant to peaceful solutions, but if the states there are to rise above the narrow confines of exclusionary and destructive nationalism, some form of Balkan confederation will be needed. The outside world could help by funding regional infrastructure projects that would improve life in all the countries in question. As expensive as those may be, they will be much cheaper than the continued costs of conflict in the area.
So far the established democracies have two unpalatable options in dealing with ethnic conflict. They can remain aloof and seem politically impotent, or they can become militarily engaged and risk embarrassing failure. A third path will require much bolder and more creative diplomacy than the world has seen so far in the post-Cold War period.
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES is the editor of FOREIGN POLICY. He presented an earlier version of this paper to the
Aspen Strategy Group. Article A16723756
Abstract: United States national interest includes its description and prescription of foreign policy. How the United States should
define its world interests is a problem raised by the NATO-Yugoslavia conflict. What are the America's concerns after the
collapse of the Soviet Union? What are the affects of the information age?
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1999 Council on Foreign Relations Inc.
CONFUSION AFTER KOSOVO
NATO's military intervention in Kosovo dramatically raises a larger problem: how should the United States define its interests in
today's world? After the collapse of the Soviet Union, what are the limits of America's concerns abroad? Can one define interests
conventionally in the information age? The "national interest" is a slippery concept, used to describe as well as prescribe foreign
policy. Hence the considerable debate about it. Some scholars have even regretted the waning of the very idea of a "national"
interest today. Writing in these pages, Samuel P. Huntington argued recently that "without a sure sense of national identity,
Americans have become unable to define their national interests, and as a result subnational commercial interests and transnational
and nonnational ethnic interests have come to dominate foreign policy."
For almost five decades, the containment of Soviet power provided a North Star to guide American foreign policy. From a longer historical perspective, however, the Cold War was the anomalous period, and even it involved some bitter disputes over where our interests lay -- during the Vietnam War, for example. Before World War II, confusion was more often the rule. For example, ethnic differences colored appraisals of whether the United States should enter World War I. Peter Trubowitz's recent study of American definitions of national interests in the 1890s, 1930s, and 1980s concludes that "there is no single national interest. Analysts who assume that America has a discernible national interest whose defense should determine its relations with other nations are unable to explain the persistent failure to achieve domestic consensus on international objectives."
With all that said, it would be a mistake to discard the term. As the Commission on America's National Interests declared in 1996, "national interests are the fundamental building blocks in any discussion of foreign policy. . . . In fact, the concept is used regularly and widely by administration officials, members of Congress, and citizens at large." The commission goes on to identify five vital interests that most agree would justify the unilateral use of force. Not everyone would agree with this particular list. Economic and humanitarian interests are also widely thought important. Many experts argue that vital strategic concerns are more widely shared than other interests, and deserve priority because were we to fail to protect them, more Americans would be affected and in more profound ways. Leaders and experts are right to point out dangers to the public and to try to persuade it. Yet even "objective" threats are not always obvious. The connection between a particular event (Iraq's invasion of Kuwait or Serbia's rejection of the Rambouillet agreement) and an American interest may involve a long causal chain. Different people see different risks and dangers. And priorities vary: reasonable people can disagree, for example, about how much insurance to buy against remote threats and whether to do so before pursuing other values (such as human rights). In a democracy, such political struggles over the exact definition of national interests -- and how to pursue them -- are both inevitable and healthy. Foreign- policy experts can help clarify causation and tradeoffs in particular cases, but experts alone cannot decide. Nor should they. The national interest is too important to leave solely to the geopoliticians. Elected officials must play the key role.
In a democracy, the national interest is simply the set of shared priorities regarding relations with the rest of the world. It is broader than strategic interests, though they are part of it. It can include values such as human rights and democracy, if the public feels that those values are so important to its identity that it is willing to pay a price to promote them. The American people clearly think that their interests include certain values and their promotion abroad -- such as opposition to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. A democratic definition of the national interest does not accept the distinction between a morality-based and an interest-based foreign policy. Moral values are simply intangible interests. Leaders and experts may point out the costs of indulging these values. But if an informed public disagrees, experts cannot deny the legitimacy of public opinion. Polls show that the American people are neither isolationist nor eager to serve as the world's police. But finding a middle course is proving difficult and complex.
THE IMPACT OF THE INFORMATION AGE
Strategists advise that interests should be defined in relation to power -- but how would one describe the distribution of power in the information age? Some think the end of the bipolar world left multipolarity in its stead. But that is not a very good description of a world in which one country, the United States, is so much more powerful than all the others. On the other hand, unipolarity is not a very good description either, because it exaggerates the degree to and ease with which the United States is able to get what it wants -- witness Kosovo.
Instead, power today is distributed like a three-dimensional chess game. The top, military board is unipolar, with the United States far outstripping all other states. The middle, economic board is multipolar, with the United States, Europe, and Japan accounting for two-thirds of world production. But the bottom -- representing transnational relations that cross borders and lie outside the control of governments -- has a more dispersed structure of power. This complexity makes policymaking today more difficult. It means playing on several boards at the same time. Moreover, although it is important not to ignore the continuing importance of military force for some purposes, it is equally important not to be misled into thinking that American power can always get its way in nonmilitary matters. The United States is a preponderant, but not a dominant, power.
Another distinction to keep in mind is that between "hard power" (a country's economic and military ability to buy and coerce) and "soft power" (the ability to attract through cultural and ideological appeal). It is important that half a million foreign students want to study in the United States each year, that Europeans and Asians want to watch American films and TV, and that American liberties are attractive in many parts of the world. Our values are significant sources of soft power. Both hard and soft power remain vital, but in the information age soft power is becoming more compelling than ever before.
Massive flows of cheap information have expanded the number of contacts across national borders. In a deregulated world, global markets and nongovernmental actors play a larger role. States are more easily penetrated today and less like the classic realist model of solid billiard balls bouncing off each other. As a result, political leaders are finding it more difficult to maintain a coherent set of priorities in foreign policy, and more difficult to articulate a single national interest.
Yet the United States, with its democratic society, is well placed to benefit from the rapidly developing information age. Although greater pluralism may diminish the coherence of government policies, our institutions are attractive and the openness of our society enhances credibility -- a crucial resource in an information age. Thus the United States is well placed to make use of soft power. At the same time, the soft power that comes from being a "city on the hill" does not provide the coercive capability that hard power does. Alone, it does not support a very venturesome foreign policy.
Hence different aspects of the information age mean different things for America's national interests. On the one hand, a good case can be made that the information revolution will have long-term benefits for democracies. Democratic societies can create credible information because they are not threatened by it. Authoritarian states will have more trouble. Governments can limit their citizens' access to the Internet and global markets, but they pay a high price if they do so. Singapore and China, for example, are currently wrestling with these problems. Moreover, transparency is becoming a key asset for countries seeking investments. Governments that want rapid development will have to give up some of the barriers to information flows.
On the other hand, some aspects of the information age are less benign. The free flow of broadcast information in open societies has always had an impact on public opinion and the formulation of foreign policy. But now the flow has increased in volume and shortened news cycles have reduced the time for deliberation. By focusing on certain conflicts and human rights problems, the media pressure politicians to respond to some foreign problems and not others -- for example, Somalia rather than southern Sudan in 1992. The so-called CNN effect makes it hard to keep items that might otherwise warrant a lower priority off the top of the public agenda. Now, with the added interactivity of groups on the Internet, it will be harder than ever to maintain a consistent agenda.
Also problematic is the effect of transnational information flows on the stability of national communities. The Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan once prophesied that communications technologies would turn the world into a global village. Instead of a single cosmopolitan community, however, they may have produced a congeries of global villages, each with all the parochial prejudices that the word implies, but with a greater awareness of global inequality. Transnational economic forces are disrupting traditional lifestyles, and this increases economic integration and communal disintegration at the same time. This is particularly true in the post-Soviet states and the old European-built empires of Africa. Political entrepreneurs use inexpensive information channels to mobilize the discontented on sub-national tribal levels: some to the cause of repressive nationalism, and some to transnational ethnic and religious communities. This in turn leads to increased demands for self-determination, increased violence, and other violations of human rights -- all in the presence of television cameras and the Internet.
AMERICAN POWER AND PRIORITIES
William Perry and Ashton Carter have recently argued that we should rethink the way we understand risks to U.S. security. At the top of their new hierarchy they put "A list" threats like that the Soviet Union once presented to our survival. The "B list" features imminent threats to U.S. interests -- but not to our survival -- such as North Korea or Iraq. The "C list" includes important "contingencies that indirectly affect U.S. security but do not directly threaten U.S. interests": "the Kosovos, Bosnias, Somalias, Rwandas, and Haitis."
What is striking is how the "C list" has come to dominate today's foreign policy agenda. Carter and Perry speculate that this is because of the disappearance of "A list" threats since the end of the Cold War. But another reason is that "C list" issues dominate media attention in the information age. Dramatic visual portrayals of immediate human conflict and suffering are far easier to convey to the public than "A list" abstractions like the possibility of a "Weimar Russia," the rise of a hegemonic China and the importance of our alliance with Japan, or the potential collapse of the international system of trade and investment. Yet if these larger, more abstract strategic issues were to turn out badly, they would have a far greater impact on the lives of most Americans.
How should Americans set priorities in such a world? We should start by understanding our power. On one hand, for reasons given above, American power is now less fungible and effective than it might first appear. On the other, the United States is likely to remain preponderant well into the next century. For a variety of reasons, the information revolution is likely to enhance rather than diminish American power.
As a wealthy status quo power, the United States has an interest in maintaining international order. Behind the abstractions about rising interdependence are changes that make it more difficult to isolate the United States from the effects of events in the rest of the world. More concretely, there are two simple reasons why Americans have a national interest in preventing disorder beyond our borders. First, events and actors out there can hurt us; and second, Americans want to influence distant governments and organizations on a variety of issues such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, drugs, shared resources, and the environment.
To do so, the United States cannot merely set a good example -- it needs hard- power resources. Maintaining these will require an investment that Americans have recently been unwilling to make -- witness the decline in the foreign affairs budget and the reluctance to take casualties. It is difficult to be a superpower on the cheap. Second, the United States has to recognize a basic proposition of public-goods theory: if the largest beneficiary of a public good (such as international order) does not provide disproportionate resources toward its maintenance, the smaller beneficiaries are unlikely to do so. This puts a different twist on Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright's phrase that the United States is "the indispensable nation," and one less palatable to the public and to Congress.
Third, we should make sure that top priority is given to those aspects of the international system that, if not attended to properly, would have profound effects on the basic international order and therefore on the lives and welfare of Americans. Some analysts have suggested that we can learn something from the lesson of the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century, when it was also a preponderant but not dominating power. Three public goods that Britain attended to were maintaining the balance of power among the major states, promoting an open international economic system, and maintaining open international commons such as the freedom of the seas. All three translate relatively well to the current American case. In terms of the distribution of power, we need to continue to "shape the environment" (in the words of the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review), and that is why we keep 100,000 troops based in Europe, another 100,000 in Asia, and some 20,000 near the Persian Gulf. Our role as a stabilizer and a reassurance against the rise of hostile hegemons in important regions has to remain a top priority, an "A list" issue.
Meanwhile, promoting an open international economic system is good not just for America's economic growth but for other countries' as well. In the long term, economic growth is likely to foster stable democratic middle-class societies around the world. To keep the global system open, the United States must resist protectionism at home and strengthen international monitoring institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank for International Settlements. In regard to international commons, the United States, like nineteenth-century Britain, has an interest in freedom of the seas, but also in the environment, in the preservation of endangered species, and in the uses of outer space and of the new cyberspace.
Beyond the nineteenth-century analogy, in today's world the United States has a general interest in developing and maintaining the international laws and institutions that deal not just with trade and the environment, but with arms proliferation, peacekeeping, human rights, and other concerns. Those who denigrate the importance of law and institutions forget that the United States is a status quo power. They also ignore the extent to which legitimacy is a power reality. True realists would not make such a mistake.
Finally, as a preponderant power, the United States can provide an important public good by acting as a mediator and convener. By helping to organize coalitions of the willing and by using its good offices to mediate conflicts in places like Northern Ireland, the Middle East, or the Aegean Sea, the United States can help to shape the world in ways that are beneficial to us as well as to other nations.
THE C LIST
If we did not live in the information age, the foregoing strategy for prioritizing America's national interests might suffice. But the reality is that nonvital crises like Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Kosovo continue to force their way to the foreground because of their ability to command massive media attention. Such crises raise moral concerns that the American people consistently include in their list of foreign policy interests. Policy experts may deplore such sympathies, but they are a democratic reality.
Some might object that a strategy based on "A list" issues does not take account of the ongoing erosion of Westphalian national sovereignty that is occurring today. It is true that old-fashioned state sovereignty is eroding -- both de facto, through the penetration of national borders by transnational forces, and de jure, as seen in the imposition of sanctions against South Africa for apartheid, the development of an International Criminal Court, and the bombing of Yugoslavia over its policies in Kosovo. But the erosion of sovereignty is a long-term trend of decades and centuries, and it is a mixed blessing rather a clear good. Although the erosion may help advance human rights in repressive regimes by exposing them to international attention, it also portends considerable disorder. Recall that the seventeenth-century Peace of Westphalia created a system of sovereign states to curtail vicious civil wars over religion. Although it is true that sovereignty stands in the way of national self-determination, such self-determination is not the unequivocal moral good it first appears. In a world where there are some two hundred states but many thousands of often overlapping entities that might eventually make a claim to nationhood, blind promotion of self-determination would have highly problematic consequences.
So what do we do about the humanitarian concerns and strong moral preferences that Americans want to see expressed in their foreign policy? Americans have rarely accepted pure realpolitik as a guiding principle, and human rights and the alleviation of humanitarian disasters have long been important aspects of our foreign policy. But foreign policy involves trying to accomplish varied objectives in a complex and recalcitrant world. This entails tradeoffs. A human rights policy is not itself a foreign policy; it is an important part of a foreign policy. During the Cold War, this balancing act often meant tolerating human rights abuses by regimes that were crucial to balancing Soviet power -- for example, in South Korea before its transition to democracy. Similar problems persist in the current period -- witness our policy toward Saudi Arabia, or our efforts to balance human rights in China with our long-term strategic objectives.
In the information age, humanitarian concerns dominate attention to a greater degree than before, often at the cost of diverting attention from "A list" strategic issues. Since pictures are more powerful than words, arguments about tradeoffs become emotional and difficult. Of course, acting on humanitarian values is often appropriate. Few Americans can look at television pictures of starving people or miserable refugees and not say that their country should do something about them. And the United States often does respond to such catastrophes. Sometimes this is quite easily done, such as hurricane relief to Central America or the early stages of famine relief in Somalia. But apparently simple cases like Somalia can turn out to be extremely difficult to resolve, and others, like Kosovo, are difficult from the start.
The problem with such hard cases is that the humanitarian interest that instigates the action often turns out to be a mile wide and an inch deep. The American public's impulse to help starving Somalis (whose food supply was being interrupted by various warlords) vanished in the face of televised pictures of dead U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Such transience is sometimes attributed to popular reluctance to accept casualties. But that is too simple. Americans went into the Gulf War expecting and willing to accept some ten thousand casualties. As this suggests, Americans are reluctant to accept casualties only in cases where their only foreign policy goals are unreciprocated humanitarian interests. Ironically, when opinion turns against such cases, this may not only divert attention and limit willingness to support "A list" interests but may also undermine support for action in other, more serious humanitarian crises. One of the direct effects of the Somalia disaster was America's failure (along with other countries) to support and reinforce the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda that could have limited a true genocide in 1994.
There are no easy answers for such cases. We could not simply turn off the television or unplug our computers even if we wanted to. The "C list" cannot simply be ignored. But there are certain rules of prudence that may help the integration of such issues into the larger strategy for advancing the national interest. First, there are many degrees of humanitarian concern and many degrees of intervention to reflect them, such as condemnation, sanctions targeted on individuals, broad sanctions, and various uses of force. We should save violent options for the most egregious cases. When we do use force, it is worth remembering some principles of the "just war" doctrine: having a just cause in the eyes of others; discrimination in means so as to not unduly punish the innocent; proportionality of means to ends; and a high probability of good consequences (rather than wishful thinking).
We should generally avoid the use of force except in cases where our humanitarian interests are reinforced by the existence of other strong national interests. This was the case in the Gulf War, where the United States was concerned not only with the aggression against Kuwait, but also with energy supplies and regional allies. This was not the case in Somalia. In the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Kosovo), our interests combine both humanitarian values and the strategic concerns of European allies and NATO. We should try to involve other regional actors, preferably in the lead role when possible. In Africa after 1995, the United States offered to help with training, intelligence, logistics, and transportation if African countries provided the troops for a peacekeeping force. There were few takers. If African states are unwilling to do their part, we should be wary of going it alone. In Europe, we should welcome the idea of combined joint task forces that would be separable but not separate from NATO and encourage the Europeans to take the lead on such issues.
We should also be clearer about what are true cases of genocide. The American people have a real humanitarian interest in not letting another Holocaust occur. Yet we did just that in Rwanda in 1994. We therefore need to do more to organize prevention and response to real cases of genocide. Unfortunately, the Genocide Convention is written so loosely and the word is so abused for political purposes that there is danger of the term becoming trivialized. But a strict historical interpretation of the crime, based on the precedents of the Holocaust and Rwanda, can help to avoid such pitfalls.
Finally, Americans should be very wary about intervention in civil wars over self-determination. The principle is dangerously ambiguous; atrocities are often committed by activists on both sides and the precedents can have disastrous consequences.
How could these rules of prudence have helped in the case of Kosovo? At an earlier stage, they would have produced more caution. In December 1992, President Bush issued a vague threat that Serbia should not attack ethnic Albanians in its Kosovo province while he remained silent on Bosnia. A year later, the Clinton administration reiterated the warning. The United States was saved from having to back up these threats by the Kosovar Albanians' pacifist leader, Ibrahim Rugova, who espoused a Gandhian response to Serbian oppression. After 1996, the rise of the militantly pro-independence Kosovo Liberation Army undermined Rugova's leadership. According to journalist Chris Hedges, the radicals of the KLA, who combine "hints of fascism on one side and whiffs of communism on the other," have been labeled a terrorist organization by U.S. government officials. A KLA victory might well have involved atrocities and ethnic cleansing of the Serb minority in Kosovo. The KLA's refusal to sign the Rambouillet agreement in the first round of talks in February let the NATO alliance off the moral hook and should have been used as an opportunity to step back. Instead, the United States "fixed the problem" by pretending to believe the KLA's promise to accept autonomy within Yugoslavia. The United States then threatened to bomb Serbia. Milosevic called the American bluff and initiated his planned ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.
At that point, new facts on the ground raised Kosovo from the "C list" to the "B list" of U.S. foreign policy concerns. The scale and ferocity of Milosevic's ethnic cleansing could not be ignored. European allies such as the United Kingdom, France, and even Germany joined the United States in calling for NATO action. If the United States had then pulled the rug out from under its pro- interventionist allies, it would have produced a NATO crisis on the scale of Suez in 1956. The humanitarian impact had grown immensely and was now reinforced by a strategic interest in the future of the American alliance with Europe. Skeptics argue that one should never pursue "sunk costs." By this argument, if Kosovo was not worth intervention before, it is not worth it now. But history is path-dependent, since choices, once made, eliminate certain options and create others. In calculating the costs and benefits of future actions, policymakers must realistically assess the current situation, not the past. It does no good to lament the more prudent paths not taken at an earlier stage.
Kosovo illustrates how a "C list" issue can migrate to the "B list" of national interests that merit the use of force. Kosovo itself is not a vital American interest, and it only touches tangentially on an "A list" issue (the credibility of the NATO alliance). The "A list" also includes the future of Russia and of international laws and institutions such as the United Nations. NATO, Russia, and the United Nations must all figure in how we resolve the Kosovo crisis. And the rules of prudence must still be applied as we insist on the return of the refugees and the withdrawal of Serbian forces. If moral outrage or unilateralist temptations blind Americans to their other "A list" priorities, the United States may dangerously overreach itself and turn a just cause into a counterproductive crusade.
Prudence alone cannot determine the national interest in the information age. But better consequences will flow if American values and goals are related to American power, and interests are rationally pursued within prudent limits. Determining the national interest has always been contentious throughout U.S. history. That is to be expected in a healthy democracy. But the debate about the American national interest in the information age should pay more attention to the peculiar nature of American power today; it should establish strategic priorities accordingly; and it should develop prudential rules that allow the United States to meld its strategic, economic, and humanitarian interests into an effective foreign policy.
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., is Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for
International Security Affairs in 1994 and 1995.
Mag.Coll.: 99B0034. Article A54917815
Michael Hirsh Bush and the World
From Foreign Affairs, September/October 2002
Michael Hirsh, a former Foreign Editor of Newsweek, is writing a book about American foreign policy to be published by Oxford University Press in spring 2003.
THE NEED FOR A NEW WILSONIANISM
In its emotional impact, September 11, 2001, may have been the most horrifying single day in American history. As bloody as some of the great battles and disasters of the past have been, the news about them tended to trickle out: most Americans read detailed accounts of Antietam or Pearl Harbor well after the event. On September 11, Americans watched on television, in real time, as the twin towers of the World Trade Center burned and their fellow citizens flung themselves to their deaths from 100 stories up. Americans all watched as the towers imploded, and they all knew that they were witnessing, in seconds, the deaths of thousands of their compatriots in the nation's front yard.
George W. Bush experienced this terrible new reality as directly and as emotionally as any American. The difference was that he could do something about it. The United States was faced with an irreconcilable enemy; the sort of black-and-white challenge that had supposedly been transcended in the post-Cold War period, when the great clash of ideologies had ended, had now reappeared with shocking suddenness. And in Bush, the man seemed to meet the moment. For someone of the president's Manichaean sense of right and wrong and powerful religious faith -- not to mention unilateralist instincts -- the Bush doctrine came naturally (indeed, a senior adviser says Bush wrote the language himself). It also seemed to express the rage and grim resolve that many Americans were feeling. Bush's message to the world, first delivered on September 20, 2001, was this: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Either you stand with civilization and good (us), or with barbarism and evil (them). Choose. And to those nations that choose wrongly, beware.
In the year since Bush first gave voice to his doctrine, it has become the animating concept of American foreign policy, transforming the entire focus of his administration. The Bush doctrine has been used to justify a new assertiveness abroad unprecedented since the early days of the Cold War -- amounting nearly to the declaration of American hegemony -- and it has redefined U.S. relationships around the world. Under the hammer of the Bush doctrine, Pakistan was forced to relinquish its long-time support of the Taliban and its tolerance of al Qaeda, and Saudi Arabia had to confront the fact that 15 of its own disaffected citizens shaped under its fundamentalist Wahhabi brand of Islam had carried out the attacks.
The Bush doctrine has also helped to reinvigorate relations with major powers such as China, Russia, and India, each of which faces its own terrorist insurgency, and all of which are now, in a happily Bismarckian way, on friendlier terms with Washington than with each other. The president has used the Bush doctrine to isolate Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil" -- even though almost no one else around the world views them quite that way -- and to declare America's right to preemptively attack anywhere. "My job isn't to nuance," Bush once said by way of explaining his blunt unilateralism. "My job is to say what I think. I think moral clarity is important."
The truth, however, is that a year later there is still very little clarity about the real direction of U.S. foreign policy and the war on terror. First, it is not much of a "war" to begin with. Since the last major battle at Shahikhot, Afghanistan, in March, the effort has gone underground, devolving into the quiet seizure and detention of suspects, the day-by-day interdiction of threats. Indeed, it has become impossible to tell even if "our side" is winning. Much as the Pentagon brilliantly adapted itself to Afghanistan's mountains, the United States is now taking on terror cells with its own furtive countercells made up of spooks, paramilitaries, and G-men.
More important, the concept at the heart of the conflict has scarcely evolved beyond its bare-bones formulation of a year ago. The president keeps using the Bush doctrine to justify new calls to action. But what does it mean to be "with" the United States in the war on terror? Is it a temporary alliance -- the "coalitions of the willing" the administration vaguely referred to at the start -- or does it mean something more? The enemy is clearly Osama bin Laden and his Islamist sympathizers and collaborators, as well as terror-supporting states. But who is on the American side? And why are so many of those who are included in what Bush calls "this mighty coalition of civilized nations," such as countries in Europe and Asia, still griping that they do not feel a part of any larger cause?
Some of these complaints about the American superpower are not new; indeed, the violent protests that another unilateralist president, Ronald Reagan, touched off with his visits to Europe in the 1980s were worse than those that greeted Bush on his last visit. Much of the grumbling has to do with foreign -- especially European -- resentment over the vast disparity in power between the United States and the rest of the world. But the complaints this time have some merit. While Bush talks of defending civilization, his administration seems almost uniformly to dismiss most of the civilities and practices that other nations would identify with a common civilization. Civilized people operate by consensus, whether it is a question of deciding on a restaurant or movie or on a common enemy. The yearly round of talks at institutions such as the G-7 group of major industrialized nations, NATO, or the World Trade Organization (WTO) are the social glue of global civilization. The mutual desire for security and an eagerness to benefit from the global economy supplies the motivation. Diplomacy is the common language.
But Bush, to judge by his actions, appears to believe in a kind of unilateral civilization. Nato gets short shrift, the United Nations is an afterthought, treaties are not considered binding, and the administration brazenly sponsors protectionist measures at home such as new steel tariffs and farm subsidies. Any compromise of Washington's freedom to act is treated as a hostile act. To quash the International Criminal Court (ICC), for example, the administration threatened in June to withdraw all funds for UN peacekeeping. Global warming may be occurring, as an administration report finally admitted in the spring, but the White House nonetheless trashed the Kyoto Protocol that the international community spent ten years negotiating, and it offered no alternative plan. One State Department careerist complains that the unilateralist ideologues who dominate the administration have outright contempt for Europe's consensus-based community, with little sense of the long and terrible history that brought Europe to this historic point. When NATO after September 11 invoked its Article V for the first time ever, defining the attack on the United States as an attack on all members, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dispatched his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to say this would not be necessary because "the mission would define the coalition." One senior hard-liner at a Pentagon meeting summed up the U.S. view thus: "Preserve the myth, and laugh."
The effect is that when Bush does invoke his "we're in this together" rhetoric or talks of creating a "common security framework for the great powers," it rings hollow. It suggests a towering insincerity: fine words, but no real commitment to anything enduring except American security. U.S. security, of course, must be number one on any president's agenda. And the disparity in power does justify a certain degree of unilateral leadership. In recent months, Bush has also, in small ways, begun moderating his unilateralism. Faced with European outrage, he compromised on the ICC, and for the Middle East, he created a "quartet" -- the EU, Russia, the UN, and the United States -- to oversee the creation of a Palestinian state. But if Bush plays the war leader well, as a global leader he still falls short, for Bush's stunted vision fails to recognize that U.S. security is now inextricably bound up in global security and in strengthening the international community.
September 11 and its aftermath had the paradoxical effect of demonstrating, within the space of a few months, both the unprecedented vulnerability of the United States and its unprecedented power. Its economic and military centers were more vulnerable than anyone had thought possible, and yet within several weeks Americans were displaying more power than anyone thought they possessed on one of history's toughest battlefields, Afghanistan. Even the Pentagon was surprised by the swiftness of the Taliban's defeat, which occurred despite much naysaying from British and Russians harking back to their own failures in Afghanistan.
What does it mean to possess such power and vulnerability at the same time? It means that America must make use of the full panoply of its tools of hard and soft power to secure itself. On one hand it is clear that the demonstration of U.S. might is needed, and not just to wipe out al Qaeda. The use of overwhelming force in Afghanistan helped to restore U.S. credibility after a decade of irresolution, halfhearted interventions, and flaccid responses to previous attacks. Bill Clinton's sporadic cruise-missile strikes only seemed to encourage bin Laden, who derided the United States as a paper tiger. But at the same time, the nature of the terrorist threat demonstrated the necessity of bolstering the international community, which is built on nonproliferation agreements, intelligence cooperation, and legitimizing institutions such as the un, as well as a broad consensus on democracy, free markets, and human rights. It also demonstrates the necessity of a values-driven foreign policy -- and of nation building under multilateral auspices in places such as Afghanistan.
The president himself has occasionally seemed to recognize the full challenge. As Bush said rather grandiosely in a defining speech at West Point, "We have our best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace." The problem is that on this issue his administration is almost as much at war with itself as with the terrorists. Caught in the middle of titanic fights between Secretary of State Colin Powell and his lonely band of moderate multilateralists, the Donald Rumsfeld-Dick Cheney axis of realist unilateralists, and a third group of influential neoconservatives led by Wolfowitz, the president cannot seem to decide which world view he embraces. As a result, Bush has veered between a harsh, pared-down realism, which seeks to stay out of the world (and in which nation building, much less world building, is shunned), and a strident internationalism that seeks to reorder the world "for freedom." But the overall tilt of his administration remains toward disengagement except in the use of military force. The bottom-line problem may be that the belief system that the president brought into office -- which condemned Clinton as a serial intervener and sought to withdraw from U.S. overcommitments to peacekeeping, nation building, and mediation -- is in direct conflict with the reality Bush was handed on September 11. And this outdated belief system is giving way too slowly against the incursions of the real world.
The result is ideological paralysis, followed by policy paralysis. For all of Bush's eagerness to look decisive, he has projected an image of vacillation to the world. The president is trying to lead a global fight that cries out for deep U.S. engagement from Afghanistan to Kashmir to the Middle East. But held back by the ideological hard-liners in his administration -- and perhaps by his own stubbornness -- he still barely acknowledges the global system he is ostensibly fighting for. Even after the attacks, when it became apparent that the enmities between the Israelis and the Palestinians and between the Indians and the Pakistanis would complicate the war on terror, the Bush administration had to be dragged into mediating those conflicts, heels first. Another example is the ICC controversy, in which the administration's scorched-earth refusal to cooperate made its ultimate compromise all the more humiliating.
Vacillation between engagement and withdrawal is a chronic problem in U.S. foreign policy, but under the current administration, it is especially striking. The impression it creates abroad is deeply damaging and has benefited America's Islamist enemies. U.S. allies may be annoyed with Bush's apparent insincerity, but terrorists love it. They believe their patience will be rewarded with the thing they desire most: American inattention and withdrawal. And they may be right. Consider the following cases.
In Afghanistan, after a decade of debate about whether humanitarian intervention in failed states was in the U.S. national interest, September 11 showed beyond any doubt how much harm can emanate from failed states. Bush acknowledged this fact in speeches, even indirectly criticizing his father for abandoning Afghanistan in 1989. He invoked the Marshall Plan in declaring that America will help Afghanistan to develop a stable, free government, an educational system, and a viable economy. Top officials such as Wolfowitz acknowledged that the key to making this work is money. The strategy was also straightforward: channel large amounts of this aid through the Western-friendly leader Hamid Karzai, giving Kabul power and leverage over the warlord-led provinces. But behind the scenes, the administration's ideologues acted to minimize U.S. involvement. Washington pledged a scant $296 million and fought off congressional leaders who wanted to pitch in more aid. (Bush's budget director, Mitch Daniels, told congressional leaders who wanted to allocate $150 million for educational and agricultural assistance that they would get no more than $40 million.) And the administration maintained a doctrinaire refusal to use any U.S. troops as peacekeepers. As a result, other nations were parsimonious with their troops and resources as well. Not surprisingly, as Afghans despair of long-term U.S. involvement, the nation has fallen increasingly under the control of warlords.
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Bush continued his policy of "parking" the Arab-Israeli conflict even as the Palestinian intifada raged out of control. Finally, in an eloquent speech in the Rose Garden on April 4, he declared that "enough is enough" and that America was "committed" to ending the conflict. Bush demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdraw "without delay" from a Palestinian incursion. After months of simply demanding an end to terrorism, Bush appeared to recognize that Palestinians needed some concrete reason to abjure violence -- and that only the United States could broker a deal. Powell proposed a peace conference. But two months later, prodded by the hard-liners, Bush lurched in another direction. In a big speech on June 24, he dropped the peace conference and demanded a new Palestinian leadership "not compromised by terror" before he would approve statehood (his three-year target date put resolution conveniently after the 2004 elections). Bush's new stance was morally satisfying: by wishing Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat out of the picture and demanding democracy, he preserved the essence of his doctrine and his conservative, avidly pro-Israel base. But this focus on Arafat effectively gave Sharon a new green light to crack down and continue obstructionist tactics such as promoting new settlements in the Palestinian territories. Islamists used the moment to propagandize again that America was in bed with Israel.
The India-Pakistan crisis is another example of vacillation. For nine months after September 11, at a time of maximum U.S. leverage in South Asia, the administration ignored the seething Kashmir issue that threatened to destabilize that critical region. Only when war threatened to erupt did Bush send Powell's deputy, Richard Armitage, to negotiate a de-escalation in June. As part of that effort, a senior administration official said, the United States was looking for a trade: in return for Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf's promise to stop infiltration across the line of control, India would open up discussions on Kashmir with the United States as facilitator. But Bush, still deeply averse to Clintonian personal mediation, resisted using his unprecedented influence with New Delhi and Islamabad to address the now nuclearized Kashmir issue. This inaction has been a gift to al Qaeda, which has trained Islamic militants to fight in Kashmir and would benefit enormously from a destabilized Pakistan.
On the whole, then, the Bush hard-liners are winning the policy battles. The diplomatically disengaged realism of Rumsfeld and Cheney seems to have the edge over the crusading neoconservatism of Wolfowitz and others, who call for enlarging the "zone of democracy." Even so, in practice most of these conservatives have become united under the banner of neoimperialism, or "hegemonism." This belief holds that the unilateral assertion of America's unrivaled hard power will be the primary means not only of winning the war on terror, but of preserving American dominance indefinitely, uncompromised for the most part by the international system or the diplomatic demands of other nations. Hailing mainly from the antidetente right wing that dates back at least to the 1970s, the Bush hegemonists feel that for too long America has been a global Gulliver strapped down by Lilliputians -- the norms and institutions of the global system. They feel vindicated in their assertion of U.S. power by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and of the Taliban a decade later, as well as by the relative ease with which they achieved a key goal, the dissolution of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Their next plan is to preemptively attack Iraq, perhaps by the end of the year.
As a result of the hegemonists' primacy, attempts by Bush moderates such as Powell to push a more all-embracing global agenda have faltered. A speech last spring by Richard Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department, called for a new, suspiciously Clintonesque "doctrine of integration" that would "integrate other countries and organizations into arrangements that will sustain a world consistent with U.S. interests and values." It sank quickly out of sight. As Armitage, another Powellite, said later at a congressional hearing, "We are not as far along in a public diplomacy strategy as we ought to be." Powell, who once envisioned himself as arbiter of the Bush foreign policy, has been relegated to cleaning up the diplomatic imbroglios that the hard-liners leave behind.
Today, Washington's main message to the world seems to be, Take dictation. But truly effective leaders do not work by diktat, even during wars. Previous presidents offered a compelling countervision that inspired the world to their cause. Faced with what seemed to be the breakdown of Western civilization in World War I, Woodrow Wilson declared his plans to build a new world of democracy and open markets in the "common interest of mankind." Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan all may have disdained Wilson's excesses of idealism, but they fought World War II and the Cold War along distinctly Wilsonian lines when confronting alternative world views. Many of the institutions that the Bush hard-liners have so little use for were conceived as part of a new vision to correct the weaknesses of Western democratic capitalism in the face of opportunistic threats like fascism and Marxism-Leninism.
Even when Bush does wax Wilsonian, he often does so in a policy vacuum, making his unilateralist moralism all the more grating on foreign ears. "The twentieth century ended with a single surviving model of human progress," Bush declared at West Point, "based on non-negotiable demands of human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women and private property and free speech and equal justice and religious tolerance." Compare this to Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech in 1941 -- an expression of hope, rather than a declaration of what was non-negotiable -- which Roosevelt swiftly incorporated into the Atlantic Charter and, later, the UN Charter.
And as the war on terror grinds on, America is missing the historic chance that Bush referred to. Ironically, what remains of al Qaeda's wounded network has made a common civilization even easier to define, because terror cells are now targeting Europeans and Asians as well as Americans. The credo that drives Islamism -- extremist Salafism -- is not just anti-American; as scholar Michael Doran has noted in these pages, it sees all of modern civilization as the "font of evil." In response, this is precisely the moment to put forward a powerful, inclusive idealism with which the world can identify -- a countervision that will dispel the lingering attractions of Islamism, especially for younger generations in places such as Iran and the Palestinian territories.
It is true that this is a different kind of war. In terms of hard power, the threat is small compared to the hegemonic challenges posed by Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. But in ideological terms, the challenge that the Islamists pose is similar -- a point Bush himself made when he declared in his September 20 speech that the terrorists are "the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the twentieth century." They may not have tanks and planes, but they do have a substantial support base in the mainstream Islamic world and the "superempowerment" that globalization has granted to small groups of fanatics. Pakistan, one of the United States' chief allies, is also now a chief launching pad for al Qaeda. Suicide bombing is a way of life in the Palestinian territories, where bin Laden's picture hangs prominently on many walls. Saudi and Persian Gulf oil money continues to fund Salafism, which has a nesting ground and sympathetic roosts around the world. Its message is carried daily by al Jazeera, the pan-Arab "news" station, and even in many U.S. mosques.
The hegemonists are right about one thing: hard power is necessary to break the back of radical Islamic groups and to force the Islamic world into fundamental change. Bin Laden said it well himself: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like a strong horse." The United States must be seen as the strong horse. The reluctant U.S. interventionism of the 1990s made no headway against this implacable enemy. Clinton's policy of offering his and NATO's credibility to save Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo won Washington little goodwill in the Islamic world.
But to reverse the broader trend of anti-Americanism, Washington cannot simply bomb the enemy out of existence or root it out with its special forces. Homeland defense will improve national security only marginally (and may ultimately be more costly than beneficial to a country whose rise to power was built on its openness to all peoples, ideas, and technologies). So Islamism must also be crushed in the war of ideas. It is at this moment, when the ideologists of al Qaeda are transmitting their message of civilizational war on the Internet and marketing it in hateful ways such as the video of the execution of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, that those who call themselves a "civilization" must give that structure a name.
As Kennedy once said in summarizing what was at stake in the Cold War, "The real question is which system travels better." Americans believe their system puts the failed economic, political, and social alternatives of the Arab world to shame, but that point does not seem clear to many people, especially in the developing world. If the United States is in fact draining the swamp of terrorism -- which is doubtful -- it is certainly not filling it back in with something more appealing. This is especially true as the West dithers over the failures of globalization -- another Clintonian agenda left adrift by Bush administration ideologues (especially Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill) since the momentum of the 1990s free-market revolution petered out. Even if many terrorists are not directly driven by poverty, the inequities of globalization feed a general anti-Westernism that is a seedbed for Islamism.
Because the world gets only marching orders from Bush and not a common vision, it will be less inclined to follow them, especially if the United States begins to take large-scale preemptive action against states such as Iraq. Preemption may be inevitable against an enemy that cannot be deterred (and the Europeans and Russians seem increasingly willing to sanction a campaign against Iraq), but Washington will need to apply consummate diplomacy to persuade its partners that such a campaign is in their self-interest, and to get them to clean up the mess afterward, as in Afghanistan. It will also need to work hard, diplomatically, to convince others that preemption is not the overriding principle of action in the war on terror -- for what will then stop India, for example, from preemptively attacking Pakistan? The United States can only lead by example here. Even during the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy worried what the reaction in the UN and the international community might be if he launched a preemptive strike on Cuba, ultimately choosing to defy his hawkish military advisers and opt for a naval quarantine instead.
But to understand where the Bush administration needs to go, it is first necessary to understand where it is coming from. If there is one reason Bush has maintained his hard-edged policies, it is that they continue to be popular with the American people. So if Bush is to change his outlook, Americans must too. And to do so, they must change their own frame of reference.
DEATH OF A FOUNDING MYTH
The day after September 11, General Richard Myers was asked at a congressional hearing why the mightiest military in history had failed to protect the heart of American power from a band of men brandishing box cutters. In those early, shell-shocked hours, before the spin set in, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no ready reply but the unvarnished truth: "We're pretty good if the threat is coming from the outside," Myers said. "We're not so good if it's coming in from the inside."
A year later, Americans still seem stunned by how hard it is to tell which threats are coming from the outside and which are on the inside. Whereas other nations, such as the United Kingdom, have long accommodated themselves to domestic surveillance because of the infiltration of terrorists, the United States is just getting started on this road. This confusion is at the heart of the divisions in the American intelligence community, long neglected but now critical to the war on terror. The old clash of interests between the CIA and the FBI had been getting ever more aggravated in the post-Cold War period. The CIA began moving into the FBI's traditional bailiwick as crime grew more transnational, involving drugs and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In more recent years, the FBI began elbowing into the CIA's territory, "running" agents overseas in response to the Khobar Towers and the U.S.S. Cole bombings. But these mutual efforts barely improved communications, and the two agencies seemed to feel little urgency about doing so -- until September 11.
Even now, the idea that borders do not mean much anymore is not an easy one for Americans to stomach. Clinton, the "globalization" president, was constantly harping on this theme, but it never really resonated. One of the nation's founding myths, after all, is that of exceptionalism: America is a place apart, protected by its oceans. Such hopes as George Washington's farewell plea for insularity in 1796 or Thomas Jefferson's warning against entangling alliances sprang from the fact that Americans had a national life of their own, gloriously isolated from Europe and Asia, lording over the western hemisphere.
By the late nineteenth century, without even trying, the United States was already the largest economy in the world. These victories imbued its exceptionalism and its spawn, isolationism and unilateralism, with physical, palpable reality. The founding myth had come true. America's success in building a continental empire only fed into the certainty that it could act with total freedom of action. Its pride in its values and ideals made Americans certain that they were always right.
By the twentieth century, the United States was getting pulled into the great wars, starting the now-familiar pattern of intense involvement followed by withdrawal. During the Cold War, withdrawal was not possible as global entanglement with the Soviets followed the war on fascism. But if the vast oceans no longer protected the United States from nuclear attack once the era of nuclear brinksmanship began, Americans still thought of the threat as "out there," coming from the sky and across the sea from an alien, less perfect world. And when that conflict ended, it should have been no surprise to anyone that George W. Bush, his conservative impulses unchecked by the need for Cold War-style engagement, sought to shrink America's presence abroad to a more manageable size and to give voice once again to America's irrepressible exceptionalism.
A number of European commentators have consoled themselves with the idea that at least America is not isolationist any longer. That is true. But unilateralism and isolationism are ideological twins. They both spring from the same exceptionalist impulse, a deep well of American mistrust about the rest of the world, especially Europe. This is still American scripture, cited by fundamentalists such as Pat Buchanan and John Bolton, a conservative "Americanist" who argues that international treaties are not legally valid. (In fox-guarding-the-henhouse fashion, Bolton became Bush's undersecretary of state for arms control policy and promptly dismantled or obstructed nearly every multilateral treaty in sight.) Unilateralism is more politically acceptable today, but like isolationism, it does not accept the encumbrances of the international system.
What many Americans, including the Bush hard-liners, must grasp is this: during America's periods of intense (if reluctant) engagement overseas, the world that they had wanted to keep at ocean's length became largely their world. For a century now, Americans have built a global order bit by bit, era by era, all the while listing homeward, like a guest at a party who is yearning for an excuse to leave politely. What many Americans have not understood at a gut level is that it is their party. Every major international institution -- the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), NATO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade -- was made in America. And taken together, all this institution building has amounted to a workable international system, one in which democracy and free markets seem to be an ever-rising tide.
Is there any better way, for example, of coopting the putative next superpower, China, into the international system than to mold its behavior through the WTO and the UN Security Council? Neoconservatives would call this approach "appeasement"; they want to "solve" the problem of China with regime change. But they offer no practical program: Washington is certainly not going to invade and occupy a nuclear-armed nation of 1.3 billion people. And while we await the advent of democracy there, the international system offers Beijing a real alternative to the old geopolitical power struggle, both by holding out the possibility of achieving national prosperity within such a system and by giving the Chinese a face-saving way to say they have no other choice but to bow to the American hegemon. The same policy of institutional envelopment goes for Russia.
Americans must now embrace what might seem a contradiction in terms: a more inclusive exceptionalism, which recognizes that what separates the United States from the world is no longer nearly as significant as what binds it to the world. Especially in today's world, where both opportunities and threats have become globalized, the task of securing freedom means securing the international system. The United States faces a tradeoff of time-honored American ideals: to preserve the most central of its founding principles, freedom, it must give up one of it founding myths, that of a people apart. America is now, ineluctably, part of a global community of its own making.
ACCEPTING THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
For the Bush administration, it is a sharp irony that America's main ally in the war on terror has turned out to be the global community, and that they now need this despised liberal entity to flesh out the Bush doctrine. As it took power, the new administration insisted it would, as Bush adviser and now National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice wrote in 2000, "proceed from the firm ground of the national interest and not from the interest of an illusory international community." Conservatives wanted to roll back what they saw as the rabid globalism of the Clinton years; they deplored how this globalized society sought to influence the issues that they wanted to reserve for U.S. sovereignty -- from land mines to international war crimes tribunals to taxes.
In truth, by the time they took office, these so-called sovereigntists were already putting their fingers in a very leaky dike. Globalization and the world of complex interdependence had rendered many of their arguments moot. U.S. businesses had set up transnational production networks that left them vulnerable both to the desires of overseas governments and to the whims of transnational actors such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The latter, empowered by the global information revolution, have found it easier and easier to pursue their interests divorced from national bases; as Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott has observed, al Qaeda may be the ultimate NGO. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, had become addicted to the Wall Street-centered international financial system. America had become a net user of other nations' capital, enabling Americans to habitually buy more goods from abroad than they sell to others. This trend became critical to the health of the U.S. economy throughout the 1990s, a decade in which U.S. savings dropped to nearly nothing.
By Bush's inaugural, American dependence on the international system had gone beyond savings and investment, jobs and markets. It was also about maintaining America's military superiority -- the very source of its unilateralist pride. As the campaign in Afghanistan showed, much of the best U.S. defense technology is produced by high-tech commercial companies, which supply a lot of the technology that goes into robotic drones, airborne cameras, satellites, handheld global-positioning-system equipment, and systems-integration and telecommunications equipment.
Little of this equipment is produced now by a military-industrial complex sequestered in the United States, as it was during the Cold War. Nor will it be produced that way in the future, despite Bush's huge increase in defense spending. The Internet may have begun, famously, as a top-secret Defense Department project, but those days are long gone. Today Silicon Valley is so far ahead in R&D and product generation that it is simply too expensive and inefficient for the Pentagon to order up its own computer and telecommunications equipment from scratch. And here is the crucial point: these high-tech companies depend on the international marketplace to survive. Indeed, the "dual-use" technologies they produce represent the lion's share of what America's economy has to sell in the global marketplace these days. Supercomputers, for example, are necessary for twenty-first-century warfare -- determining everything from warhead design to weather patterns in the event of an air strike -- and every U.S. supercomputer company now gets at least half of its revenues from overseas sales. America's defense edge, in other words, depends on the stability and openness of the international economy in a way it never has before.
It is easy for conservatives, of course, to acknowledge the importance of the international economy. The "international community" is another thing. This is still such a nebulous idea that it has always been easy to dismiss as a Wilsonian myth. Yet the international economy no longer exists in a vacuum; there is a growing nexus of markets, governments, and peoples that share common interests and values, and that nexus in turn deepens the international economy. There are old working institutions, such as the Security Council, that sometimes give voice to these interests and values, and new institutions such as the WTO that adjudicate disputes when that nexus breaks down.
Proof that the international community exists -- or at least that something other than anarchy prevails -- is all around us. It can be found in the lack of serious attempts by other major powers to balance or build alliances against the United States, as realists have predicted. It can be found in the fact that none of the major powers -- the EU, Japan, Russia, even China -- is engaged in a major military buildup to challenge the lone superpower decades hence. Despite the war on terror and all the disputes it has provoked between Americans and Europeans, the forces of order are clearly much more powerful than the forces of chaos in the world today. In the last decade, financial markets have collapsed several times, and the global economy has held (so far). Antiglobalization protests raged, and the open-market system has remained intact (for the most part). Terror struck down the World Trade Center towers, and the clash of civilizations has not ensued (yet). If there is a coming anarchy, as some realists warn, then the burden of proof still lies with them, because there is hardly a glimmer of it on the horizon. The structure of the post-Cold War world has stayed together through its many stresses and strains, not least because there is no viable alternative.
Even so, scholars such as Joseph Stiglitz and Kevin Phillips increasingly warn that the engine of the international community, the global economy, is choking on its inequalities and cannot sustain itself without some assiduous repair work. All the more reason why Bush must do far more to make the rich-poor divide part of his global vision; the United States still ranks near last among major powers in foreign aid as a percentage of GDP.
But nothing demonstrates more than the war on terror the need for Americans to make the conceptual leap into accepting that they are part of an international community. To fight what have become disaffiliated cells, at least since the al Qaeda leadership was partially destroyed in Afghanistan, the United States desperately needs information on terror groups from Berlin to Kuala Lumpur. This approach cries out for a much more conciliatory attitude by the Bush administration, but again it was slow in coming. Washington was even reluctant to share intelligence with key allies such as France and Germany. Not surprisingly, cooperation in shutting down terror cells and rolling up their financial support networks has flagged.
The arcane but critical issue of WMD proliferation is another reason why Americans must work harder to flesh out a fuller international community. As the decades pass, it will only grow easier for terrorist groups to obtain such weapons. The likely main threat to Americans will not be ballistic missiles launched from a rogue state that knows it will face massive retaliation; it will be a WMD loaded into a boat or truck by a small number of hate-filled people who lack a "return address" and are undaunted by the threat of retaliation. Missile defense will not work in those cases, and a beefed-up homeland defense will improve only marginally America's ability to stop them before they are used.
Preemptive action can certainly help, but if overused it could establish a dangerous new precedent for international behavior. So it is clearly in the U.S. national interest to control or cut down the number of such weapons proliferating around the world. That means reducing -- or at least holding in place -- the number of states that produce them, and curbing the rest. As the Bush administration took office, it had access to a whole slew of useful if flawed tools for helping to accomplish this task, all of them globalist regimes launched by the United States, all of them regimes that would tend to lock in U.S. military superiority. Among these tools are the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention. And yet the Bush administration, pursuing its old agenda against sovereignty-crimping treaties much as it continued to resist the nation building that would give terrorist fewer hiding places, abjured most of these tools rather than trying to fix them.
Some of the administration's policies actually seemed to welcome a world of more nuclear weapons. The nuclear posture review leaked in March 2002 went several steps beyond Clinton's presidential decision directive of 1997, which first broached the use of nuclear weapons against rogue states. It is little remembered that in early 2001, the Bush administration moderated its objections to China's nuclear missile buildup -- in hopes of blunting Beijing's opposition to U.S. missile defense. (A year later, the Pentagon raised alarms that China was, in fact, building up its missile force.) And Bush's West Point speech seemed to dismiss any return to arms control: "We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties, and then systematically break them." To fight this threat, the president continued, "we will oppose them with all our power." Yet raw power does not work to stop nations from passing on WMD knowledge. Nor does it work well to stop other nations from seeking to obtain WMD, especially if they know the United States is working to enlarge and improve its own nuclear arsenal and that it renounces international law and organizations.
Well into the war on terror, the administration continued to pitch for more missile-defense money to take on "terrorist states," even as it waffled over certifying Russia to receive another tranche of money for disposing of WMD material. In a traditional strategic, set-piece way, the Bush administration's pursuit of missile defense could prove to be smart, long-term thinking -- if it works. But continuing to make it the centerpiece of an ongoing defense strategy after September 11, while slighting multilateral efforts to contain proliferation, is nothing less than delusional. All these efforts seem to justify anew one of the fuzziest, more derided elements of Woodrow Wilson's old program for peace: reducing arms.
Finally, even if the sovereigntists in Washington do not accept the existence of the international community, the terrorists apparently do. Bin Laden's jihad was launched against "Crusaders and Jews" and the "iniquitous United Nations" as well as America. Indeed, the hostility of bin Laden and his Islamic fundamentalist sympathizers can be properly understood only in the context of the ever-widening -- and what they see as corrupting -- circle of Westernized international society. Bernard Lewis, the eminent scholar of Islam, traces today's Muslim rage to the final decline of Islamic society after a millennium-long war of primacy and self-esteem with the West. And the writers Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit have argued that Islamists are only the latest incarnation in the history of "occidentalism," or repeated attempts to organize a hostile resistance to Westernization. Today's fundamentalists were preceded by Japanese nationalists in the early twentieth century, early German nationalists and Slavophilic Russians, and finally by the fascists and Japanese militarists. And if the "West" sticks together, radical Islamists are likely to meet a similar fate: defeat, followed by cooption.
But before Islamism expires, many more Westerners are likely to die from terrorist acts. All the more reason why Bush needs to hurry along the death of Islamism by spelling out a more inclusive alternative to it. This war must end, in fact, the way all successful American wars against fundamentally opposed ideologies have ended in the past: one side must win, totally. And being good Wilsonians, Americans must leave the world a better place so that it does not happen again. That is what America did to Germany and Japan during the U.S. occupation, and for the most part it worked. It displaced the most dangerous elements of those alien societies with Westernized norms. They were made, in short, permanent members of the international community. Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the rest of the Muslim world, must be forced in the same direction. But at this stage of history, it can be forced only by a united front of the international community.
For all these reasons, Washington simply cannot afford the resentment and lack of cooperation that a unilateralist America engenders. Accepting the reality that it is part of a larger global system does not mean a significant loss of sovereignty -- the great American fear that has such deep roots in exceptionalism. The current champions of exceptionalism still believe they are fighting an overweening globalism, even the threat of world government. But these worries are ludicrously exaggerated: governments and nation-states still plainly define the world. The international community, as real, powerful, and growing as it is, shows no signs whatever of fostering a world government. The idea is absurd on its face: even as Bush beefed up his defense budget last year to Cold War levels, about $390 billion, the combined budgets of all the major multinational organizations -- the un, the ICC, the World Bank -- amounted to less than $20 billion.
Yet none of this means that American unilateralism is all bad.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF UNILATERALISM
Some Europeans have all but given up on Bush -- the "Toxic Texan," as he was called by one continental editorialist -- and are merely waiting until they can get back to a Clinton-like administration, which is now remembered as happily multilateralist. They have faulty memories. True, the Clintonites may have done a better job of papering over transatlantic differences and sounding multilateralist. Clinton fudged U.S. opposition to the ICC and the Biological Weapons Convention, and he deferred far more to European sensitivities over the ABM Treaty. But when the going got tough -- think of Richard Holbrooke at Dayton, or Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet -- the Clintonites could act just as unilaterally as the current Bush team.
Today's unilateralism, in other words, has less to do with the peculiarities of Bush's "cowboy" mindset or even exceptionalism than with the sheer inequality in hard power between the United States and the rest of the world -- especially Europe, which is where most of the complaints come from. America behaves unilaterally because it can, and it is always at moments of national crisis when this impulse is strongest. This fact of life is not going away anytime soon. The Europeans are learning during the war on terror what the Japanese learned in the Persian Gulf War: vast economic power gives you leverage mainly in economics, unless the will exists to turn it into something more. Europe can be a big dog at WTO talks and on issues such as antitrust, harrying giant U.S. multinationals such as GE and Microsoft. But as Japan found out upon Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, global security is another matter. Tokyo proved during the Gulf War that it was not ready, it turned out, to be the new Rome of the "Pacific Century." And in this now-critical realm of hard power, Europe has, like Japan, been shown to be a "pygmy," to quote the rueful words used by NATO Secretary-General George Robertson.
Few Europeans have appreciated the extent to which, when the Cold War ended, their relevance to Washington ended too. The institutions of the transatlantic community were built on the idea of great-power cooperation, a "concert of power," in Wilson's phrase, with America the superpower as first among equals. Never mind that the disparity of power between the United States and Europe was just as great at the end of World War II. The limitations of technology and the delicate balancing act of Cold War deterrence, of forward-based missiles and troops directed against the Soviet bloc, required real cooperation.
After the Cold War, George H.W. Bush and Clinton made a good show of pretending nothing had changed. But in fact everything had. In a broad strategic sense there was no concert any more; there was only a one-man band. Nato, even as it expands as a political organization, is less relevant than ever to America's strategic considerations. Nato is still useful -- as it proved in the latter stages of the Afghan campaign -- but as an outpost of American power, rather than a partner to it.
Well before September 11, the contours of this new world system began to take shape. But neither the Americans nor the Europeans fully acknowledged that their roles were being newly defined, and that was one reason for all the ill feeling as the war on terror commenced. Whether the world likes it or not, American power is now the linchpin of stability in every region, from Europe to Asia to the Persian Gulf to Latin America. It oversees the global system from unassailable heights, from space and from the seas. Since September 11, this is becoming true in long-neglected Central and South Asia as well. And if Bush has his way, this rise to hegemony will continue. As he said in his West Point speech, "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge."
If America now faces the problem of how to behave on the world stage with too much power, Europe must confront the fact that its rhetoric too often outstrips its lack of power. If Europe is increasingly speaking with one voice on world crises such as the Middle East, this voice remains unbacked by a unified power structure. As German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told me last May, "We are 200 years behind you. In an institutional way we have just now reached the level of the Federalist Papers." And European governments are still spending only tiny amounts on the much-touted European rapid-reaction force, which underneath the politesse of Foggy Bottom most of Washington mocks.
So both sides, in truth, must make some adjustments. U.S. allies must accept that some U.S. unilateralism is inevitable, even desirable. This mainly involves accepting the reality of America's supreme might -- and, truthfully, appreciating how historically lucky they are to be protected by such a relatively benign power. It means understanding, for example, why the United States, as the global stabilizer most often called on for robust intervention, should get special consideration from the ICC. The standing division of labor should be acknowledged and expanded: the Europeans must chip in with peacekeeping just as the oil-guzzling Japanese, during the Gulf War, paid for much of that effort. With the nuclear shadow mostly lifted, many Europeans can no longer stomach the idea of being led by those simplistic, moralistic Americans. But if they want to be "postmodern" states that no longer wage war, they will have to pay the piper: Washington must take the lead in setting the agenda, even if it should not entirely dictate it.
Yet the adjustment Americans must make is just as great. It is precisely because American power is so dominant that Americans must bend over backward to play down, rather than harp on, the disparities. This is not just a matter of being nice, or doing "coalitions for coalitions' sake," as some internal critics of Powell's lonely multilateralist efforts contend.
If the Europeans no longer play a big part in America's military planning, they remain an essential ally in the strategy of institutional envelopment, coopting the Chinas and the Russias into the international system. And if the Bush team wants to see a global division of labor that works, it cannot expect the Europeans and others to blindly sign on to peacekeeping and nation building without being genuinely consulted on overall strategy beforehand. It would be much easier to win converts on Iraq, for example, if the Europeans were being asked to help develop a long-term strategy for turning that nation, post-Saddam, into a stable, Western ally. For these reasons, the administration cannot simply swat aside institutional constraints it does not like. In the case of the ICC, for example, it would have been far more effective for the administration to argue as a signatory for safeguards for U.S. troops -- even to hamstring the court, if necessary, from the inside -- than to simply reject it as an outsider.
One problem with proposing a new Wilsonianism is that because America is so dominant, any attempt to trumpet universal values from Washington is likely to be resented more than it was in the past. Presidents such as Wilson or Reagan were able to bring the world along with them because the world was far more afraid of the alternative. But now there is no alternative: there is only the big, bad superpower. The saving grace is that America no longer needs to work as hard to build a world anew: that structure now exists. Washington simply has to back it up.
Bush himself said it best during his campaign in 2000: "Our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power. And that's why we've got to be humble and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. ... If we are an arrogant nation, they'll view us that way, but if we're a humble nation, they'll respect us." The mystery is why the Bush administration now thinks it must carry a big stick and speak loudly at the same time -- why it feels it must declare its values "non-negotiable." That only turns one into the schoolyard bully. And bullies always have their comeuppance.
A NEW CONSENSUS
There is a middle choice between the squishy globalism that the Bush sovereigntists despise and the take-it-or-leave-it unilateralism they offer up as an alternative. A new international consensus, built on a common vision of the international system, is possible. In today's world, American military and economic dominance is a decisive factor and must be maintained -- as the right believes -- but mainly to be the shadow enforcer of the international system Americans have done so much to create in the last century, in which the left places much of its trust. It is this international system and its economic and political norms that again must do the groundwork of keeping order and peace: deepening the ties that bind nations together; coopting failed states such as Afghanistan, potential rogues, and "strategic competitors"; and isolating, if not destroying, terrorists. As Henry Kissinger wrote, "the dominant trend in American foreign-policy thinking must be to transform power into consensus so that the international order is based on agreement rather than reluctant acquiescence." Or, as Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican increasingly critical of the administration, recently summed it up, "We need friends."
In terms of practical policy, it is never easy to find the right mix of unilateralism and multilateralism to make this work. Washington must strike the proper balance, warning the world that it will permit no other power to challenge America without being overbearing about it, and reassuring the world of America's essential benignness without encouraging the idea that it has gone "soft" or will withdraw. Achieving this will be a task of long-term, assiduous diplomacy requiring "the virtuosity of a Bismarck to pull it off," in the words of Washington analyst Andrew Krepinevich.
It will also require some political sacrifice. The peculiarity of American foreign policy is that it must be sold to the American people. And unilateralism is so much easier to sell and conceptually so much cleaner than multilateralism. The benefits are immediate: a strong image for the president, higher poll ratings, and in Bush's case, preserving a conservative base. But the costs are long-term and diffuse: the threat of WMD slipping through, the distant notion that Europe or China may start to oppose U.S. hegemony decades hence, the degree-by-degree warming of the globe. As for multilateralism, on the other hand, its benefits are long-term and diffuse for the same reasons and its costs immediate: an image of compromise and weakness, which is something no American president likes, especially when fighting a war.
But American presidents, Bush included, must bite the bullet (or the ballot) and accept this consummate responsibility, even if it costs them some votes. That blithe Cold War description, "leader of the free world," must be restored and broadened. If America wants to maintain its primacy, direct, if not constitutional, responsibility for the entire global system must be written into the job description of every American president. In practical terms, Bush must talk forthrightly about the international system that benefits all; he must systematically support its institutions even if he does not always agree with them; and he must dwell somewhat less on what is purely good for "America."
As is well known, Woodrow Wilson died an embittered failure, even though his ideas later became what Kissinger called "the bedrock" of U.S. foreign policy in the twentieth century. Before September 11, some scholars, such as Frank Ninkovich, had declared the usefulness of "the Wilsonian century" over. Wilsonianism was "crisis internationalism," Ninkovich wrote in 1999, and the post-Cold War world return to normalcy, "provided the occasion for dispensing with [Wilsonian policies] altogether." Well, now the world has a crisis again. And it may be Wilson, the first president to actively internationalize American values, whose ideas are needed most in the war on terror -- even if they must be applied in a different way.
This is not the view of George W. Bush's Washington, of course -- though more and more Bush officials are finding it useful to invoke that loaded term "international community." Indeed, the Bush team is most focused on the political winds blowing from its right. Some conservative pundits began calling last September for an even greater assertiveness abroad than Bush was willing to impose. They sought to establish an American empire that would, like traditional imperial powers, invade foreign lands according to its unilateral whim, all with the aim of keeping Americans safe.
But it is simply not in America's national DNA to impose a new Pax Romana. The United States is a nation whose very reason for existence is to maximize freedom (exceptionalism again). And in any case the pursuit of empire is a prescription for certain failure: every great empire in history, no matter how enduring, has fallen eventually to its own hubris, having built up a tide of resentment among its subjects or enemies. The United States is doing that already just by occasionally veering too far into unilateralism. The only practical solution is to bolster the international community to which, as Powell said upon his nomination as secretary of state, the United States is "attached by a thousand cords."
Copyright 2002 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All rights reserved.
Kenneth M. Pollack Next Stop Baghdad?
Foreign Affairs March/April 2002
CUTTING THE GORDIAN KNOT
As the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, the question of what the United States should do about Iraq has risen to the forefront of American foreign policy. Hawks argue that toppling Saddam Hussein should be "phase two" in the war on terrorism. They see Iraq's development of unconventional weapons as a critical threat to U.S. national interests and want to parlay the success of the Afghan campaign into a similar operation further west. Those who pass for doves in the mainstream debate point to the difficulty of such an undertaking and the lack of any evidence tying Saddam to the recent attacks on the United States. They argue that the goal of America's Iraq policy should be to revive U.N. weapons inspections and re-energize containment. Both camps have it partly right -- and partly wrong.
Thanks to Washington's own missed opportunities and others' shameful cynicism, there are no longer any good policy options toward Iraq. The hawks are wrong to think the problem is desperately urgent or connected to terrorism, but they are right to see the prospect of a nuclear-armed Saddam as so worrisome that it requires drastic action. The doves, meanwhile, are right about Iraq's not being a good candidate for a replay of Operation Enduring Freedom, but they are wrong to think that inspections and deterrence are adequate responses to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
After the more immediate danger posed by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network has been dealt with, the Bush administration should indeed turn its attention to Baghdad. What it should do at that point, however, is pursue the one strategy that offers a way out of the impasse. The United States should invade Iraq, eliminate the present regime, and pave the way for a successor prepared to abide by its international commitments and live in peace with its neighbors.
THE TROUBLE WITH CONTAINMENT
The reasons for contemplating such dramatic action have little to do with the events of September 11 and the subsequent crisis and much to do with the course of U.S. policy toward Iraq since 1991. After Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War, the first Bush administration hoped Saddam would fall from power. It had no clear strategy for how to make that happen, however, and so settled for keeping him isolated and defanged until the lucky day eventually arrived. For lack of a better alternative the Clinton administration continued the same policy, as has the current administration.
The central goal of containment over the past decade has been to prevent Saddam -- a serial aggressor -- from rebuilding Iraq's military power, including its weapons of mass destruction. The United States and its allies did not want to have to deter, repel, or reverse another Iraqi invasion; they wanted to deny Saddam the wherewithal to mount a threat to his neighbors in the first place. So they put in place, under U.N. auspices, a combination of economic, military, and diplomatic constraints that prevented Saddam from once again destabilizing one of the world's most strategically important regions, while simultaneously allowing humanitarian exemptions so Iraq could meet the nonmilitary needs of its population. Despite the criticism it often received, this policy was a sensible approach to a situation in which there were few attractive options. It served its purposes well, and far longer than most thought possible.
Over the last few years, however, containment has started to unravel. Serious inspections of Saddam's WMD programs stopped long ago. Fewer and fewer nations respect the U.N.-mandated constraints, and more and more are tired of constantly battling with Saddam to force him to comply. Ludicrous Iraqi propaganda about how the economic sanctions are responsible for the deaths of more than a million people since 1991 is now accepted at face value the world over. A dozen or more nations have flown commercial airliners into Iraq to flout the ban on air travel to and from the country -- a ban they now claim never existed, but one that was a well-respected fact just a few years ago. Smuggled Iraqi oil flows via Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf states at a rate more than double what it was in 1998. Iraq is increasingly able to get its hands on prohibited items such as spare parts for its tanks and planes and equipment for its crippled logistical system. Most stunning of all, the Chinese were recently caught building a nationwide fiber-optic communications network for Saddam's regime; the key nodes of this system were destroyed by U.S. airstrikes in January 2001. If respect for the sanctions has already eroded to the point where the Chinese are willing to sell Iraq such critical technology, how long will it be before someone proves willing to sell tanks? Or missiles? Or fissile material?
Repeated calls to resuscitate the anti-Saddam coalition and strengthen containment are correct about the problem but na•ve in thinking it can be solved easily. Comprehensive sanctions of the type imposed on Iraq are of necessity a multilateral effort, and at this point there are simply too many important countries willing to subvert them for the scheme to be effective. The current administration's unhappy experience in trying to sell "smart sanctions" to the international community shows just how bad the situation is. The administration's proposed reforms would lift most of the economic constraints on Iraq in return for tighter controls over what comes into the country -- a perfectly reasonable idea for anyone actually interested in helping the Iraqi people while keeping Saddam's military in check. But France, Russia, China, and others have opposed the plan because Baghdad fears, correctly, that if it were accepted some form of international military and financial controls might be prolonged.
Ironically, in practice the smart sanctions probably would not do much more than briefly stave off containment's collapse. Right now the U.N. uses its control over Iraq's contracts to determine what goes into and out of the country legally. The system is policed through U.N. (read U.S.) scrutiny of every Iraqi contract -- a cumbersome and glacially slow process that still fails to stop Saddam's massive smuggling activities. The Bush administration's proposal would shift the enforcement burden away from the U.N. and onto Iraq's neighbors and try to shut down illegal trade by buying the cooperation of those states through which it would have to pass -- Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates). The problem is that all these countries profit from the smuggling, all have populations opposed to enforcing the sanctions, and all except the GCC and Iran are now highly vulnerable to Iraqi economic pressure. So no matter what they may say publicly, none of them is likely to help much in blocking the flow of oil, money, and contraband.
At this point, restoring a serious and sustainable containment regime would require an entirely new set of arrangements. General economic sanctions would have to be lifted and the current U.N. contracting system virtually eliminated, while the core military embargo and financial controls would have to be left in place, harsh penalties instituted for violators, and preauthorization arranged for the use of force by the United States to compel compliance. Such a deal is unimaginable in the U.N. Security Council today, where many of the members compete to see who can appease Iraq most. And although in theory similar reforms could be imposed by the United States unilaterally, any attempt to do so would soon run into passionate international opposition, crippling U.S. diplomacy long before it had much effect on Saddam. Reforming containment enough to make it viable, therefore, is simply not in the offing.
THE TROUBLE WITH DETERRENCE
In response to the problems of containment, some have argued that the United States should fall back on a strategy of deterrence -- or rather, containment as it was actually practiced against the Soviet Union during the Cold War (as opposed to the supersized version applied to Iraq in the 1990s). This would mean allowing the post-Gulf War constraints to slip away altogether and relying solely on the threat of U.S. intervention to dissuade Saddam from future aggression. Such an approach would be generally welcome outside the United States. But it would involve running a terrible risk, for it is not at all clear that Saddam can be deterred successfully for very long.
This is not to argue that Saddam is irrational. There is considerable evidence that he weighs costs and benefits, follows a crude logic in determining how best to achieve his goals, understands deterrence, and has been deterred in the past. Few knowledgeable observers doubt that Saddam refrained from using WMD when he attacked Israel during the Gulf War because he feared Israeli nuclear retaliation, and he seems to have been deterred from using WMD against Saudi Arabia and coalition forces because he feared U.S. retaliation.
Nevertheless, Saddam has a number of pathologies that make deterring him unusually difficult. He is an inveterate gambler and risk-taker who regularly twists his calculation of the odds to suit his preferred course of action. He bases his calculations on assumptions that outsiders often find bizarre and has little understanding of the larger world. He is a solitary decision-maker who relies little on advice from others. And he has poor sources of information about matters outside Iraq, along with intelligence services that generally tell him what they believe he wants to hear. These pathologies lie behind the many terrible miscalculations Saddam has made over the years that flew in the face of deterrence -- including the invasion of Iran in 1980, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the decision to fight for Kuwait in 1990-91, and the decision to threaten Kuwait again in 1994.
It is thus impossible to predict the kind of calculations he would make about the willingness of the United States to challenge him once he had the ability to incinerate Riyadh, Tel Aviv, or the Saudi oil fields. He might well make another grab for Kuwait, for example, and once in possession dare the United States to evict him and risk a nuclear exchange. During the Cold War, U.S. strategists used to fret that once the Soviet Union reached strategic parity, Moscow would feel free to employ its conventional forces as it saw fit because the United States would be too scared of escalation to respond. Such fears were plausible in the abstract but seem to have been groundless because Soviet leaders were fundamentally conservative decision-makers. Saddam, in contrast, is fundamentally aggressive and risk-acceptant. Leaving him free to acquire nuclear weapons and then hoping that in spite of his track record he can be deterred this time around is not the kind of social science experiment the United States government should be willing to run.
With containment collapsing and deterrence too risky, some form of regime change is steadily becoming the only answer to the Iraqi conundrum. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, in fact, supporters of one particular approach to regime change -- using the Iraqi opposition to do the job, in conjunction with U.S. air power -- have repackaged their ideas to fit the times and gained substantial momentum. The position of these hawks was captured succinctly in a September 20 "open letter" to President Bush from three dozen luminaries, who argued that
any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must
include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps
decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United
States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the
Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a
"safe zone" in Iraq from which the opposition can operate.
Once the military operations in Afghanistan succeeded, they were widely touted by such hawks as a model for a future
campaign against Saddam.
The hawks are right on two big points: that a nuclear-armed Saddam would be a disaster waiting to happen and that at this point it would be easier to get rid of him than to stop him from reconstituting his weapons programs. Unfortunately, most of them are wrong on key details, such as how regime change should be accomplished. Trying to topple Saddam by using the same limited military approach the United States used in Afghanistan -- air power, special forces, and support for local opposition groups -- would be trying to do the job on the cheap, and like all such efforts would run a real risk of disaster. It is possible that the Afghan strategy would work against Iraq -- but not likely.
In recent wars, U.S. air power has repeatedly proven devastating, and against Iraq it could by itself undoubtedly accomplish numerous missions. A determined air campaign that focused on Saddam's key supporters -- the Republican Guard, the Special Republican Guard, the Baath Party, the Saddam Fedayeen, and the internal security services -- might spark a coup. Indeed, in December 1998 Operation Desert Fox struck at this target set and Saddam became so concerned about a coup that he overreacted, ordering emergency security measures, including the arrest and assassination of several important Shi`ite clerics, that set off uprisings among Iraq's Shi`a communities. If the intention is to coerce Saddam into respecting U.N. sanctions or modest U.S. dictates, then an open-ended air campaign along the lines of Desert Fox would likely do the trick.
But coercing Saddam by threatening his overthrow is one thing, and making sure that overthrow occurs is another. The fact is that Desert Fox did not produce a coup, and the unrest that Saddam created through his overreaction was easily suppressed. All available evidence indicates that even an Afghan-style war effort would have little chance of eliminating the regime in Iraq, because of the many differences between the two cases.
In Afghanistan, the military balance between the opposition and the Taliban was quite close, which is why limited U.S. actions were able to tip the scales decisively. The Northern Alliance fighters had frustrated the much larger and better-armed Taliban forces on the battlefield for seven years. Although the Taliban slowly gained control over most of the country, the Northern Alliance always gave ground grudgingly, making the Taliban pay for every step. In Iraq, in contrast, the gap in capabilities between the regime and the opposition is much wider. In 1991 and again in 1996, Saddam's Republican Guard easily defeated even the strongest of the local Iraqi opposition forces, the two Kurdish militias. If the United States were to provide the Kurds with weapons, training, funds, and massive air support, at some point they would probably be able to hold their territory against an Iraqi assault -- but even then they would have great difficulty translating such a defensive capability into the offensive power needed to overthrow Saddam.
Some argue that with U.S. aid the external Iraqi opposition, principally the Iraq National Congress (INC), could play the Northern Alliance role. But the INC has several big strikes against it. None of Iraq's neighbors is willing to serve as a sanctuary for it because they consider it ineffectual. The INC lacks competent field commanders and has never demonstrated any serious support inside Iraq. Even with U.S. help and a base of operations in northern Iraq from 1992 to 1996, it could never gather more than a few hundred fighters at a time, was heavily reliant on the Kurds for military operations, and was unable to secure any significant defections from the Iraqi armed forces.
If the Iraqi opposition is much weaker than the Northern Alliance, the Iraqi regime is also much stronger than the Taliban was. The Taliban fielded perhaps 45,000 troops, while Iraq has armed forces totaling 400,000 -- one-quarter of them in the elite Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard -- along with paramilitary forces totaling hundreds of thousands more. The Iraqi army is much better armed than the Taliban was, has better discipline, and has demonstrated better unit cohesion. The Iraqi armed forces are hardly a juggernaut, but they have repeatedly proved to be more than a match for all local opposition.
Saddam's control over Iraq, meanwhile, is much stronger than the Taliban's control was over Afghanistan. He has quashed countless coup attempts, insurrections, and even outright revolts during his decades in power, and this has made the average Iraqi very wary of taking action of any kind against his regime. It is true that following Saddam's catastrophic defeat in the Gulf War there were major rebellions throughout southern Iraq. But what is noteworthy about them is not how large they were, but how small. Despite the magnitude of Saddam's defeat, only several tens of thousands of people ever joined in the uprisings. Despite their passionate hatred of Saddam, the vast majority of Iraqis were so terrified of him that they chose to wait to see how things would turn out rather than join the rebellion and risk retribution if it failed.
WOULD THIS TIME BE DIFFERENT?
The key to victory in Afghanistan was a U.S. air campaign that routed the Taliban combat forces, leaving the Northern Alliance only the tasks of reducing several isolated strongholds and generally mopping up. In Iraq, U.S. air power would have to accomplish at least the same results for an Afghan-style strategy to succeed, but on this score history is not encouraging.
In Operation Desert Storm, the United States hit Iraq with what was probably the most powerful preliminary air campaign in history. It followed this up with one of the most decisive ground campaigns of the twentieth century. By early March 1991, the Iraqi armed forces had been reduced to a shadow of their former selves. Yet weak as they were, they still had enough strength to crush the largest insurrections in Iraqi history and keep Saddam in power. Those who favor the Afghan approach against Iraq are therefore betting that a U.S. military effort significantly smaller than the one mounted in 1991 would somehow produce much greater results this time around.
Some claim that U.S. and Iraqi forces today are so different from those a decade ago that such history is no longer relevant. Iraq's military is certainly not as capable as it once was. And since 1991, improvements in command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities, together with the greater availability and effectiveness of precision-guided munitions, have made the U.S. military machine far more deadly. In one crucial area, however -- the ability to break enemy ground forces using air strikes alone -- the vast strides the U.S. military has taken since 1991 have yielded only a modest improvement.
Most of the U.S. advances have come in using fewer forces to destroy a given target. But throughout history the key determinant of whether ground units are likely to collapse from air strikes alone has not been the accuracy of the blows, but rather the commitment and discipline of the troops being struck. This point was reinforced in Afghanistan, where the less committed Taliban troops broke under U.S. airstrikes but the more determined and disciplined al Qaeda units did not -- and fought hard later at Kunduz, Kandahar, and Tora Bora.
The same was true during the Gulf War, when Iraq's low-grade infantry divisions broke under the massive U.S. air campaign, but the more determined and disciplined Republican Guard and regular army heavy divisions did not. This was hardly for lack of trying. The coalition flew 110,000 sorties against Iraq during Desert Storm, compared to only 6,500 against the Taliban by the fall of Kandahar. It hit the key Republican Guard divisions with more than 1,000 sorties apiece, used twice as many precision-guided munitions against Iraq as against the Taliban, and destroyed perhaps 1,500 Iraqi armored fighting vehicles from the air. The United States waged a far more punishing air campaign against Iraq than it did against the Taliban, in other words, and inflicted far more damage on Iraqi forces. But the key Iraqi divisions never broke and fought hard, although not particularly well, during the coalition's subsequent ground offensive. The odds are, therefore, that even today a substantial part of Saddam's forces would weather a sustained aerial attack, and even badly battered would still be able to prevail in combat against the opposition afterward.
Using the Afghan approach in Iraq, moreover, would leave the United States dangerously vulnerable to Saddam's counterattacks. Once Saddam realized that Washington was serious about regime change, he would fight back with everything he had -- including the two or three dozen Scud-type missiles with biological and chemical warheads that U.N. inspectors and U.S. intelligence believe he has stashed away. During the Gulf War, the United States was unable to find Iraq's Scud launchers in the western and southern parts of the country even though it used large numbers of aircraft and special forces teams in the effort. American capabilities have improved since then, but few in the U.S. military have confidence that the same mix of forces would do much better today. Likewise, once an Afghan-style air campaign began, Saddam would have every incentive to crush the Kurds. Since America's ability to defend them without ground forces is extremely limited, it has relied on deterrence -- the threat of a massive air campaign -- instead. If such an air campaign is going on anyway, that threat will no longer work, and Saddam would likely move to reoccupy the north -- with all of the attendant slaughter and repression that would entail.
Saddam might also decide to shut down Iraqi oil production to try to force Washington to halt its attacks. The U.S. strategic petroleum reserve could compensate for the loss of Iraqi oil for about seven months, but the uncertain length of an Afghan-style campaign against Iraq would raise the possibility that U.S. reserves might run out before Saddam fell. Unless U.S. ground forces occupied the Iraqi oil fields at the start of a war, moreover, there would be little to prevent Saddam from destroying them as a final act of vengeance, just as he destroyed Kuwait's oil fields in 1991.
Carrying off an Afghan-style campaign against Iraq, finally, would be extremely difficult without the support of a number of regional partners -- to provide bases and overflight for the air campaign, conduits and safe havens for the opposition forces, help with making up any shortfalls in Iraqi oil production, and so forth. Indeed, the Afghan operations themselves required help from countries including Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, and India. A replay against Iraq, a much larger and harder target, would require a comparable lineup of local friends.
Unfortunately, this is the one approach to the problem that the frontline states have made clear they would not support. America's allies in the region have told Washington time and again that they will not assist any U.S. military operation with an indeterminate end and low chances of success. As one high-ranking GCC official has put it, "when you are ready to use all of your forces we will be there for you, but we're not interested in letting you try out theories about air power."
THE CASE FOR INVASION
Saddam Hussein must be dealt with. But thinking about Iraq in the context of the war on terrorism or the operations in Afghanistan obscures more than it clarifies. Given the specific features of the Iraqi situation, trying to topple Saddam with an Afghan-style campaign would be risky and ill advised. It might just work, but there is no reason to chance it, especially since adding a major ground component -- that is, replaying the Gulf War rather than the Afghan campaign -- would not cost much more while making success a near certainty. Even without committing its own ground forces, the United States would still be responsible for Iraq's political and military reconstruction. Using a standoff approach to regime change, however, would limit American ability to control events while opening the door to mischief-makers who would try to turn Saddam's fall to their own advantage. Because of the human, diplomatic, and financial costs involved, invasion should always be a last resort. Unfortunately in this case, since all the other options are worse, it is a necessary one.
The strategic logic for invasion is compelling. It would eliminate the possibility that Saddam might rebuild his military or acquire nuclear weapons and thus threaten the security of the world's supply of oil. It would allow the United States to redeploy most of its forces away from the region afterward, or at the very least return to its pre-Gulf War "over the horizon" presence -- something long sought by locals and the United States alike. And by facilitating the reconstruction of Iraq and its re-entry into regional politics it would remove a major irritant from U.S. relations with the Muslim world in general.
The military aspects of an invasion, meanwhile, although hardly painless, would be straightforward and well within U.S. capabilities. In 1991, U.S. forces ran roughshod over their Iraqi counterparts, and in the ten years since then the gap in capabilities between the two sides has widened. At this point, the United States could probably smash Iraq's ground forces with a single corps composed of two heavy divisions and an armored cavalry regiment. To be on the safe side and to handle other missions, however, it would make sense to plan for a force twice that size. Some light infantry will be required in case Saddam's loyalists fight in Iraq's cities. Airmobile forces will be needed to seize Iraq's oil fields at the start of hostilities and to occupy the sites from which Saddam could launch missiles against Israel or Saudi Arabia. And troops will have to be available for occupation duties once the fighting is over. All told, the force should total roughly 200,000-300,000 people: for the invasion, between four and six divisions plus supporting units, and for the air campaign, 700-1,000 aircraft and anywhere from one to five carrier battle groups (depending on what sort of access to bases turned out to be possible). Building up such a force in the Persian Gulf would take three to five months, but the campaign itself would probably take about a month, including the opening air operations.
The casualties incurred during such an operation might well be greater than during the Afghan or Gulf Wars, but they are unlikely to be catastrophic. Two factors that could increase the toll would be the willingness of Iraqi forces to fight tenaciously for their cities and a decision by Saddam to employ unconventional weapons during the crisis. On the other hand, it is possible that the mere presence of such American forces on Iraq's doorstep could produce a coup that would topple Saddam without significant combat.
The military aspects of an invasion, actually, are likely to be the easiest part of the deal. The diplomatic fallout will probably be more difficult, with its severity directly related to the length of the campaign and the certainty of its outcome. Just as in Afghanistan, the longer it drags on and the more uncertain it looks, the more dissent will be heard, both at home and abroad -- whereas the quicker and more decisive the victory, the more palatable it will be for all concerned.
The only country whose support would be absolutely necessary for an invasion is Kuwait. The task would be made dramatically easier if the Saudis helped, however, both because of the excellent bases on their territory and because the GCC and Jordan would undoubtedly follow the Saudi lead. Although both the Saudis and the Kuwaitis have said they do not want the United States to attack Iraq, the consensus among those who know those countries' leaders well is that they would grudgingly consent if the United States could convince them it was willing to use the full range of its military capabilities to ensure a swift, successful campaign.
Egyptian permission would be required to move ships through the Suez Canal and planes across its airspace, but given the importance of U.S. economic and military assistance to Egypt that should not be a problem. Turkey's support would also be useful, in particular because it would make it much easier to defend the Kurds in northern Iraq from an Iraqi counteroffensive. Other regional states would have an incentive to come on board because they would want to have a say in the postinvasion political arrangements in Baghdad. The French, the Russians, and the Chinese would object strongly to the whole concept and might try to kill it by raising a diplomatic firestorm. Still, they could not stop a U.S. invasion were the administration truly set on one, and they might eventually jump on board once it went ahead if only to retain political and economic influence in Iraq later on.
The biggest headaches for the United States are likely to stem not from the invasion itself but from its aftermath. Once the country has been conquered and Saddam's regime driven from power, the United States would be left "owning" a country of 22 million people ravaged by more than two decades of war, totalitarian misrule, and severe deprivation. The invaders would get to decide the composition and form of a future Iraqi government -- both an opportunity and a burden. Some form of unitary but federalized state would probably best suit the bewildering array of local and foreign interests involved, but ideally this decision would be a collective one: as in Afghanistan, the United States should try to turn the question of future Iraqi political arrangements over to the U.N., or possibly the Arab League, thus shedding and spreading some responsibility for the outcome. Alternatively, it might bring in those countries most directly affected by the outcome -- the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, and Turks -- both to co-opt them and as an incentive for their diplomatic support. In the end, of course, it would be up to the United States to make sure that a post-Saddam Iraq did not slip into chaos like Lebanon in the 1980s or Afghanistan in the 1990s, creating spillover effects in the region and raising the possibility of a new terrorist haven.
Because it will be important to ensure that Iraq does not fall apart afterward, the United States will also need to repair much of the damage done to the Iraqi economy since Saddam's accession. It could undoubtedly raise substantial funds for this purpose from the GCC and perhaps some European and East Asian allies dependent on Persian Gulf oil. And as soon as Iraq's oil started flowing again, the country could contribute to its own future. Current estimates of the cost of rebuilding Iraq's economy, however, range from $50 billion to $150 billion, and that does not include repairing the damage from yet another major war. The United States should thus be prepared to contribute several billion dollars per year for as much as a decade to rebuild the country.
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
It is one thing to recognize that because of the unique features of this case -- the scale of the interests involved, Saddam's unparalleled record of aggression and violence, and the problems with other options -- an invasion of Iraq is the least bad course of action available. It is another to figure out just when such an invasion should be launched. Despite what many hawks now argue, it is a mistake to think of operations against Iraq as part of the war on terrorism. The dilemma the United States must now grapple with, in fact, is that attacking Iraq could jeopardize the success of that war, but the longer it waits before attacking the harder it will be and the greater the risk that Saddam's strength will increase.
Toppling Saddam is not a necessary component of the war on terrorism, and by itself Iraq's support for terrorism would not justify the heavy costs of an invasion. Iraq is indeed a state sponsor of terrorism, but on the grand roll of such sponsors it is well behind Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Lebanon, North Korea, Libya, and several others. If the only problem the United States had with Iraq were its support for terrorism, it would be a relatively minor concern. Conversely, if one were to list Saddam Hussein's crimes against humanity in order of their importance, his support for terrorism would rank low.
The reason for even contemplating all the costs that an invasion would entail is the risk that a nuclear-armed Saddam might wreak havoc in his region and beyond, together with the certainty that he will acquire such weapons eventually if left unchecked. Nevertheless, there is no indication that he is about to get them within weeks or months. Containment may be dying, but it is not dead yet, and a determined U.S. effort could keep it alive for some time longer. Iraq represents an emerging threat, but bin Laden and his accomplices constitute an immediate one.
Al Qaeda has demonstrated both the ability and the willingness to reach into the American homeland and slaughter thousands, and it now has the motive of revenge to add to its general ideological hostility. Breaking the network's back in Afghanistan and elsewhere should therefore be the Bush administration's top national security priority, and this cannot be done without the active cooperation of scores of U.S. allies around the world -- for intelligence gathering, police work, and financial cooperation, all on top of any military or diplomatic help that might be required.
So far the administration's efforts in this area are paying off, largely because others have supported them. Should that trend continue, it is likely that within anywhere from six months to two years the United States and its partners will have disrupted al Qaeda's communications, recruitment, financing, and planning so much that what is left of the network will be largely innocuous. Until this point has been reached, it would be a mistake to jeopardize success by risking a major break with U.S. allies -- something that a serious campaign against Iraq might well make necessary. And besides, laying the appropriate military, political, diplomatic, and economic groundwork for an invasion will take considerable time and effort.
Nevertheless, those calling for an immediate attack on Iraq make a legitimate point. Too much delay could be as problematic as too little, because it would risk the momentum gained from the victory over Afghanistan. Today the shock of the September 11 attacks is still fresh and the U.S. government and public are ready to make sacrifices -- while the rest of the world recognizes American anger and may be leery of getting on the wrong side of it. The longer the wait before an invasion, the harder it will be to muster domestic and international support for it, even though the reason for invading would have little or nothing to do with Iraq's connection to terrorism. And over time the effort to take down al Qaeda could actually exacerbate the problems with containment, since some of America's partners in that effort want to loosen rather than tighten the noose on the Iraqi regime and may try to use the leverage of their cooperation with us to stall any bold moves. The United States can afford to wait a little while before turning to Saddam, in other words, but not indefinitely.
Even when a policy cannot be sustained forever, it often makes sense to spin out its final stages for as long as possible. This is not the case with the containment of Iraq today. The last two years have witnessed a dramatic erosion of the constraints on the Iraqi regime. The Bush administration's initial solution to this problem, the smart sanctions plan, would be little more than a Band-Aid and even so could not find general acceptance. If no more serious action is taken, the United States and the world at large may soon confront a nuclear-armed Saddam. At that point the danger would be obvious to all, but it would be infinitely more difficult to confront. Taking down al Qaeda should indeed be the priority of the moment, and using half-measures, such as the Afghan approach, against Saddam would be a mistake. But these should not become permanent excuses for inaction. We may tarry, but Saddam will not.¶
Kenneth M. Pollack is Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 1999 to 2001 he served as Director for Gulf Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council.