The latest invasion of Iraq will unleash a new cycle of hatred—unless the United States can find ways to bolster the credibility of moderate Islamic thinkers.
The announcement that the United States, North Korea and China will hold talks next week in Beijing over North Korea's nuclear program is a welcome development and an apparent victory for the Bush administration's decision to oppose direct, one-on-one talks with Pyongyang.
The record of past U.S. experience in democratic nation building is daunting. The low rate of success is a sobering reminder that these are among the most difficult foreign policy ventures for the U.S. Unilateral nation building by the U.S. has had an even rougher time-perhaps because unilateralism has led to surrogate regimes and direct U.S. administration during the post-conflict period.
Many observers believe the current relationship between Washington and Beijing is the best it has been in over a decade. Discussants examine this turnaround, its origins, its features and the challenges that lie ahead, particularly with regard to security issues.
If faced with the choice between a genuinely representative new Iraqi government that shows itself to be resistant to Washington's policy commands and an unrepresentative but compliant one, many in Washington will be tempted by the latter. But haven't we already discovered in other Middle East countries the problems with that choice?
Increasing oil production in Iraq will not alleviate the potential problems in other important oil producing regions, including West Africa, Latin America, and new producers in the Caspian region. The United States must anticipate energy security threats from these regions and prepare for them in advance.
The United States must hand over power to Iraqis sooner rather than later, helping them rebuild their nation without imposing leaders or ideologies. A democratic Iraq will probably have a strong Islamic and Arab nationalist character. But efforts to dilute Iraq's Arab or Islamic identity would risk an extremist backlash.
While the world's attention is riveted on Iraq, the United States cannot afford to ignore the brewing crisis in Korea. The Bush administration's approach to North Korea is quickly moving from the inexplicable to the irresponsible. If it continues on the current course, America could soon find itself confronted with the unpalatable choice between a nuclear-armed North Korea and war.