Worried about the aggressive and unilateral exercise of U.S. power
around the world today? Fine -- just don't blame U.S. President George W.
Bush, September 11, or some shadowy neoconservative cabal. Nations
enjoying unrivaled global power have always defined their national
interests in increasingly expansive terms. Resisting this historical
mission creep is the greatest challenge the United States faces today.
Anti-American sentiment is rising unabated around the globe because the
U.S. State Department has abdicated values and principles in favor of
accommodation and passivity. Only a top-to-bottom reform and culture
shock will enable the State Department to effectively spread U.S.
values and carry out President George W. Bush's foreign policy.
As befits a nation of immigrants, American nationalism is defined not
by notions of ethnic superiority, but by a belief in the supremacy of
U.S. democratic ideals. This disdain for Old World nationalism creates
a dual paradox in the American psyche: First, although the United
States is highly nationalistic, it doesn't see itself as such. Second,
despite this nationalistic fervor, U.S. policymakers generally fail to
appreciate the power of nationalism abroad.
North Korea is not crazy, near collapse, nor about to start a war. But
it is dangerous, not to mention dangerously misunderstood. Defusing the
threat that North Korea poses to its neighbors and the world will
require less bluster, more patience, and a willingness on the part of
the United States to probe and understand the true sources of the
President George W. Bush's national security strategy could represent the most sweeping shift in U.S. grand strategy since the beginning of the Cold War. But its success depends on the willingness of the rest of the world to welcome U.S. power with open arms.
Once, nations were forged through "blood and iron." Today, the world seeks to build them through conflict resolution, multilateral aid, and free elections. But this more civilized approach has not yielded many successes. For nation building to work, some harsh compromises are necessary -- including military coercion and the recognition that democracy is not always a realistic goal.
As the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan winds down, should Iraq become "phase two" in the war against global terrorism? Iraq hawks warn that Saddam Hussein’s arsenal of mass destruction and his fanatic hatred of the United States make him a paramount threat. Others counsel for continued diplomacy and the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, arguing that an attack on Iraq would destabilize the Arab world. To support their cases, both sides deploy cherished assumptions about everything from Saddam Hussein's sanity to the explosive volatility of the "Arab Street." But a skeptical look at the sound bites suggests that the greatest risk of attacking Iraq may not be a vengeful Saddam or a destabilized Middle East but the unraveling of the global coalition against terrorism.