There are three good reasons why the United States should worry about Iraq: oil, weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam Hussein. Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves in the Mideast, and what its government does with them vitally affects the world economy. As for weapons, Iraq already possesses chemical and biological weapons and could soon acquire nuclear ones. And Saddam, besides brutalizing his own people, has been willing to pursue reckless foreign-policy adventures -- in Iran (1980) and Kuwait (1990) -- that put the region at risk. Armed with nuclear weapons, he could wreak havoc.
The United States scored a great military and diplomatic victory in Afghanistan. It drove out a hostile regime. It dealt a serious, though not fatal, blow to the al-Qaeda terrorist network and assembled a coalition against radical Islam that stretched from North Africa to East Asia. But the Bush administration now appears poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Once the guns stopped firing in Kandahar, it reverted to the self-centered foreign policy that it had practiced before September 11. This is nowhere more apparent than in U.S. relations with the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Bush administration is getting an A for its prosecution of the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but it is flunking international economics. While energetically lobbying Congress for "fast track" authority (which is not a trade agreement, but merely a means of winning approval of one), it has botched every actual economic-policy challenge that it has faced. That was woefully apparent in its policies toward Argentina, but it has also been true of its policy toward Japan, the world's second-largest economy.
There is widespread agreement that the September 11
terrorist attacks against the United States ushered in a new stage of world
history, one distinct from the last 50 or 100 years. Secretary of State Colin
Powell has referred to the period since 9-11 as the "post-post-Cold War." New
York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has described it as "World War III."
Many others, citing Samuel Huntington's theory, have portrayed the war as a
"clash of civilizations" that has superseded the Cold War clash of ideologies.
The war, writes political scientist Louis Rene Beres, is "a civilizational
struggle in which a resurgent medievalism now seeks to bring fear, paralysis and
In the past, the great post-World War II institutions of international economics--the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the enforcement bodies of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)--have operated under the cover of bureaucratic darkness. Some lobbyists in Washington knew about them, but few voters knew what the Kennedy Round was or what the IMF did. But in the past year, the operation of these international institutions has become a major issue in Congress and the presidential campaign, and their conduct has already sparked the kind of militant left-wing demonstrations not seen for three decades.