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Diplomacy & Crisis News

Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 01/07/2005 - 06:00

Dating back to antiquity, influenza pandemics have posed the greatest threat of a worldwide calamity caused by infectious disease. Over the past 300 years, ten influenza pandemics have occurred among humans. The most recent came in 1957-58 and 1968-69, and although several tens of thousands of Americans died in each one, these were considered mild compared to others. The 1918-19 pandemic was not. According to recent analysis, it killed 50 to 100 million people globally. Today, with a population of 6.5 billion, more than three times that of 1918, even a "mild" pandemic could kill many millions of people.

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"In Larger Freedom": Decision Time at the UN

Foreign Affairs - Sun, 01/05/2005 - 06:00
Dealing with today's threats requires broad, deep, and sustained global cooperation. Thus the states of the world must create a collective security system to prevent terrorism, strengthen nonproliferation, and bring peace to war-torn areas, while also promoting human rights, democracy, and development. And the UN must go through its most radical overhaul yet.

A Duty to Prevent

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 01/01/2004 - 06:00

The Bush administration has proclaimed a doctrine of unilateral preemption as a core part of its National Security Strategy. The limits of this approach are demonstrated daily in Iraq, where the United States is bearing the burden for security, reconstruction, and reform essentially on its own. Yet the world cannot afford to look the other way when faced with the prospect, as in Iraq, of a brutal ruler acquiring nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Addressing this danger requires a different strategy, one that maximizes the chances of early and effective collective action. In this regard, and in comparison to the changes that are taking place in the area of intervention for the purposes of humanitarian protection, the biggest problem with the Bush preemption strategy may be that it does not go far enough.

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How to Stop Nuclear Terror

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 01/01/2004 - 06:00

President George W. Bush has singled out terrorist nuclear attacks on the United States as the defining threat the nation will face in the foreseeable future. In addressing this specter, he has asserted that Americans' "highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction." So far, however, his words have not been matched by deeds. The Bush administration has yet to develop a coherent strategy for combating the threat of nuclear terror. Although it has made progress on some fronts, Washington has failed to take scores of specific actions that would measurably reduce the risk to the country. Unless it changes course—and fast—a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States will be more likely than not in the decade ahead.

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Bush's Nuclear Revolution: A Regime Change in Nonproliferation

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 01/03/2003 - 06:00

The Bush administration's new "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)," announced in December, is wise in some places, in need of small fixes in other places, and dangerously radical in still others. Most important, the strategy's approach to nuclear issues seems destined to reduce international cooperation in enforcing nonproliferation commitments rather than enhance it. America's willingness to use force against emergent WMD threats, as in Iraq, can stir the limbs of the international body politic to action. But a truly effective strategy to reduce nuclear dangers over the long term must bring along hearts and minds as well.

The WMD proliferation problem involves biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, but the third raises the most telling issues. Chemical and biological weapons are legally prohibited by treaty, and so the challenge they pose is basically one of enforcement. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, are temporarily legal in five countries, not illegal in three others, and forbidden essentially everywhere else—a complex and inconsistent arrangement that presents a unique set of dilemmas.

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A Flawed Masterpiece

Foreign Affairs - Wed, 01/05/2002 - 06:00
The military campaign in Afghanistan has been, for the most part, a masterpiece of creativity and finesse. It may wind up being one of the most notable U.S. military successes since World War II. But the American strategy has also had flaws. Most important, by contracting out much of the work to undependable local proxies, it may have allowed Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders to escape -- and menace the world down the road.

The Folly of Arms Control

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 01/09/2000 - 06:00

History often places before the world a problem whose solution lies outside the bounds of contemporary political acceptability. Such was the case, for example, in the 1930s, when the rise of Hitler posed a threat to the European democracies that they lacked the resolve to face. To check Nazi aggression, most historians now agree, the democracies would have had to oppose it early and resolutely, as Winston Churchill advocated. But Churchill's prescriptions were beyond the pale of mainstream political thinking at the time, and he was forced "into the wilderness," as he famously put it. Not until the late 1930s did his ideas win political acceptance, and by then the price of stopping Hitler was World War II.

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The Return of Infectious Disease

Foreign Affairs - Mon, 01/01/1996 - 06:00

Since World War II, public health strategy has focused on the eradication of microbes. Using powerful medical weaponry developed during the postwar period—antibiotics, antimalarials, and vaccines—political and scientific leaders in the United States and around the world pursued a military-style campaign to obliterate viral, bacterial, and parasitic enemies. The goal was nothing less than pushing humanity through what was termed the "health transition," leaving the age of infectious disease permanently behind. By the turn of the century, it was thought, most of the world's population would live long lives ended only by the "chronics"—cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's.

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Foreign Policy as Social Work

Foreign Affairs - Mon, 01/01/1996 - 06:00
The Bill Clinton administration's early foreign interventions sought to make U.S. foreign policy into a kind of social work. Its attempts failed.

The Only Credible Deterrent

Foreign Affairs - Tue, 01/03/1994 - 06:00

The success of even an economic cripple like North Korea in building nuclear weapons demonstrates that the Clinton administration's nonproliferation policy is doomed. The policy ignores the obvious: the spread of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has already advanced so far that the important question is no longer how to stop their proliferation, but rather how to prevent them from being used.

Three options exist for the United States in dealing with emerging nuclear states: to persist in its current policy, which uncertainly presumes that America will extend its nuclear arsenal to regional allies and retaliate in kind against any nuclear attack; to withdraw its nuclear protection and ignore the dangers of regional nuclear conflicts as being of limited strategic interest; or to try to deter a regional nuclear aggressor through America's new conventional weapon technologies.

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Reducing Nuclear Danger

Foreign Affairs - Mon, 01/03/1993 - 06:00
A Dramatically New Situation

Two enormous events of recent years have opened the way for effective worldwide action against the danger of nuclear weapons. The first is the end of the Cold War and Soviet communism. The second is the sharp double lesson of the case of Saddam Hussein: that a rich and aggressive tyrant could get close to building a bomb of his own, but also that his effort could be blocked by effective international action. There is now a real prospect that almost all countries—those with many warheads, those with few and those with none—can come together in a worldwide program to reduce the existing nuclear arsenals and to prevent their further proliferation.

There are three immediate tasks: to execute the large bilateral reductions in U.S. and Russian forces that have been announced in recent years, to assure that Russia remains the only nuclear weapon state among the successor states of the old Soviet Union, and to reform and reinforce the worldwide effort to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons by applying the lessons learned in the case of Saddam Hussein.

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Nuclear Weapons After the Cold War

Foreign Affairs - Sun, 01/09/1991 - 06:00
Although there remains a residual case for retention of minimal nuclear weapons inventories among the nuclear states, and although some states (Israel, Pakistan) face security threats which go to their very survival and thus make weapons of last resort worth acquiring, the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons are militarily worthless, and should be destroyed. There should also be a comprehensive test ban treaty.

China and America: Beyond the Big Chill

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 01/09/1989 - 06:00
The Big Chill has descended over China. Sino-American relations are suffering. While we assess the ramifications, we must also look beyond the crisis and sketch blueprints for a warmer climate, for the present season will not long endure.

The Choice in Central America

Foreign Affairs - Tue, 01/09/1987 - 06:00
The USA maintains that its aim is for a peaceful settlement in Nicaragua in a regional context that advances the prospects for democracy, protects the interests of the Contras and preserves US strategic interests. These goals involve a potentially long and difficult process. The accord concluded by the Central American Presidents in Aug 1987 by no means ensures peace. The practical question facing the USA is how to preserve its commitment to the Contras while still influencing the negotiating process.

The Military Role of Nuclear Weapons: Perceptions and Misperceptions

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 01/09/1983 - 06:00
The public, on both sides of the Atlantic, is engaged in debate on controversial questions relating to nuclear weapons: the desirability of a nuclear freeze; the deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles to Western Europe; the production of the MX missile and the B-1 bomber; the development of the neutron bomb; and proposals to reduce the risk of nuclear war by such measures as the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from forward areas and the declaration of a strategy of "no launch on warning."

On Sino-U.S. Relations

Foreign Affairs - Tue, 01/09/1981 - 06:00
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, Sino-U.S. relations have developed by twists and turns. Tying up with the changing postwar international situation, the development passed through different stages each covering roughly a decade.

The Road to D-Day

Foreign Affairs - Tue, 14/10/1980 - 05:00

A killing frost struck the United Kingdom in the middle of May 1944, stunting the plum trees and the berry crops. Stranger still was a persistent drought. Hotels posted admonitions above their bathtubs: “The Eighth Army crossed the desert on a pint a day. Three inches only, please.” British newspapers reported that even King George VI kept “quite clean with one bath a week in a tub filled only to a line which he had painted on it.” Gale winds from the north grounded most Allied bombers flying from East Anglia and the Midlands, although occasional fleets of Boeing Flying Fortresses could still be seen sweeping toward the continent, their contrails spreading like ostrich plumes.

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The Press, the President and Foreign Policy

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 01/07/1966 - 05:00
The conflict between the men who make and the men who report the news is as old as time. News may be true, but it is not truth, and they never see it the same way. The first great event, or "Man in the News," was Adam, and the accounts of his creation have been the source of controversy ever since. In the old days, the reporters or couriers of bad news were often put to the gallows; now they are given the Pulitzer Prize, but the conflict goes on.

Palestine's Role in the Solution of the Jewish Problem

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 01/01/1942 - 07:00
ALMOST half the Jews in the world find themselves today under the Nazi heel. It is impossible to determine the rate at which their physical destruction is proceeding. Nor is it possible to visualize the condition in which the Jewish masses of Poland, Rumania, occupied Russia and even Hungary will be found when the pall of darkness is finally lifted from Nazi-occupied Europe. Tragic as is the position of the Polish peasant, he is rooted in his native soil -- at least where he has not been dragged away from it and made to slave in an armament factory. The Jew in his Ghetto, on the other hand, finds himself despoiled of everything. Deprived of his meagre possessions, driven from his home, torn from his family, he has become the most abject of all the abject victims of the terror. In the reconstruction of a new and -- let us hope -- a better world, the reintegration of the Jew will thus...