the end of the Cold War, the main challenge to those who favor
a "constructive engagement" with China has come from
human rights advocates and labor leaders. But in the last year,
a new opposition voice has been heard, arguing for a return to
the containment strategy used against the Soviet Union. This new
strategy has very little support at the Brookings Institution
or the Council on Foreign Relations, but it is well represented
in the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and the New
Republic, and in the columns of George Will, William
President George W. Bush's first major foreign-policy decision will come at the end of April when he will have to decide what kind of military hardware to sell Taiwan. The debate will be somewhat technical, but very important: It involves America's stance toward a region of the world where the fate of democracy is at stake and where a major war could eventually occur. And American liberals, who usually have something to say about almost any foreign-policy issue, from East Timor to Northern Ireland, have been almost entirely absent from this debate.
Even the best political systems cannot eliminate corruption, venality, and civil strife, but they are supposed to limit their sway. Enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the American electoral system was designed to do that, yet the recent presidential election has revealed serious weaknesses in the way a president is chosen. The country appears to have escaped lasting damage--except perhaps to the reputation of the Supreme Court--but if these structural flaws are not addressed, we could face a much more profound political crisis in the coming decades.