PARADIGMS AND PRIORITIES OF AMERICAN POWER --
A COLLAGE OF COMMENT
With Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, George
Soros, Hillary Clinton and Joseph Nye.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security advisor to U.S. President
Jimmy Carter; Samuel Huntington is a Harvard professor and author of "The
Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order"; Francis
Fukuyama is author of "The End of History and the Last Man";
George Soros is chairman of the Soros Fund; Hillary Clinton, the former
first lady, is now a senator from New York. Their comments are adapted
from a session at the World Economic Forum in New York last month.
Joseph Nye is dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and
author of "The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Superpower
Can't Go It Alone." His comments are excerpted from the upcoming
(spring) issue of New Perspectives Quarterly.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINKSI: Three main trends inform the power paradigm of
-- The United is the paramount power in the world today. In the foreseeable
future, the disproportion between the U.S. and other states will widen.
-- A reversal of the trend of concentration of power in the hands of states
is taking place. Instead, we see the increased capability of small groups
to inflict mass violence. What we've seen in the World Trade Center attack
and, earlier, with the Aum Shinrikyo attack in the Tokyo subway is just
the beginning. Small groups are now able to engage at a level of violence
that was once the exclusive preserve of states.
-- There is a growing disparity in the human condition, not only in wealth,
but in the development of science and technology. This in turn leads to
a vast disparity in the quality of life -- millions are dying of AIDS
in Africa, while therapeutic cloning is taking place in the United States.
In this context, fighting terrorism must involve more that just a coalition
of nation-states. It must be fought, like fascism, with an appeal to a
better future. Terrorism must be fought not just with force, but by grappling
with the social and political problems that surround it.
When the militant Black Panther movement arose in the U.S. in the 1970s,
for example, it was defeated not primarily by police action, but by civil
rights legislation, such as affirmative action and anti-poverty programs.
This same approach must be taken with terrorist groups globally.
SAMUEL HUNTINGTON: Without question, religion has intensified politics
on the world scale today. It has become more important everywhere in the
world but Europe (except among immigrant communities). But there is also
something else that stands behind the clash of civilizations and the backlash
against globalization: resentment by many people in the world at being
misruled by others, instead of being misruled by themselves.
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Religion and culture will play an increasing
role in shaping the future. On this point I agree with the ideas of Sam
Huntington. The militant Islamists have rejected modernity in its essence
-- the separation of the secular and religious in political life.
This is essential to grasp, because terrorism is not just the result of
poverty and disparity. If that were so, all terrorism would be coming
out of sub-Saharan Africa. The terrorist attacks against America are largely
about culture, about the backlash against modernity that takes its sharpest
form in Islam.
GEORGE SOROS: Since the United States is the unparalleled power
that far outdistances even the closest challengers, we must use that power
to manage the emergent global system -- particularly the financial system
-- so it doesn't break down. The U.S. must use the power it has to lead
the world -- not withdraw from it -- by creating a global open society.
HILLARY CLINTON: What can the West, and the U.S. in particular,
do? It is clear that there is a conflict with modernity that is long-standing,
but the problem now is that we are more interdependent than ever. And
there is little consensus globally on the social and political goals that
come in the wake of economic liberalization.
In much of the world, the U.S. is seen as selfish, aggrandizing ourselves
and leaving the rest out in the cold. The U.S. needs to take up more challenges
on the global stage in eradicating disease, preventing environmental degradation
and advancing women's rights. These must be the priorities of hegemony.
JOSEPH NYE: America's grand strategy must first ensure our survival,
but then it must focus on providing "global public goods." We
gain doubly from such a strategy: from the public goods themselves, and
from the way they legitimize our power in the eyes of others. That means
we should give top priority to those aspects of the international system
that, if not attended to properly, would have profound effects on the
basic international order and therefore on the lives of large numbers
of Americans, as well as others.
The United States can learn from the lesson of Great Britain in the 19th
Century, when it was also a preponderant power. Three public goods that
Britain attended to were maintaining the balance of power among the major
states in Europe; promoting an open international economic system; and
maintaining open international commons, such as the freedom of the seas
and the suppression of piracy.
Today we must broaden the definition of the "international commons"
to include new issues, such as global climate change, preservation of
endangered species and the uses of outer space, as well as the virtual
commons of cyberspace.
There are also three new dimensions of global public goods in today's
First, the United States should help develop and maintain international
regimes of laws and institutions that organize international action in
various domains -- not just trade and
environment, but weapons proliferation, peacekeeping, human rights and
Terrorism is to the 21st Century what piracy was to an earlier era. Some
governments gave pirates and privateers safe harbor to earn revenues or
to harass their enemies. As Britain became the dominant naval power in
the 19th Century, it suppressed piracy, and most countries benefited from
that situation. Today some states harbor terrorists in order to attack
their enemies or because they are too weak to control powerful groups.
If our current campaign against terrorism is seen as unilateral or biased,
it is likely to fail, but if we continue to maintain broad coalitions
to suppress terrorism, we have a good prospect of success. While our anti-terrorism
campaign will not be seen as a global public good by the groups that attack
us, our objective should be to isolate them and diminish the minority
of states that give them harbor.
Second, we should also make international development a higher priority
as an important global public good as well. Much of the poor majority
of the world is in turmoil, mired in vicious circles of disease, poverty
and political instability. Large-scale financial and scientific help from
rich countries is important not only for humanitarian reasons, but also,
as Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs has argued, "because even remote
countries become outposts of disorder for the rest of the world."
Third, as a preponderant power, the United States can provide an important
public good by acting as a mediator. By using our good offices to mediate
conflicts in places such as Northern Ireland, the Middle East or the Aegean
Sea, the United States can help in shaping international order in ways
that are beneficial to us, as well as to other nations. It is sometimes
tempting to let intractable conflicts fester, and there are some situations
where other countries can more effectively play the mediator's role. But
often the United States is the only country that can bring together mortal
enemies as in the Middle East peace process. And when we are successful,
we enhance our reputation and increase our power of appeal at the same
time that we reduce a source of instability.
The United States can learn useful lessons about a strategy of providing
public goods from the history of Pax Britannica. If the United States
plays its cards well and acts not as a soloist but as the leader of a
concert of nations, the Pax Americana, in terms of its duration, might
become more like the Pax Romana than the Pax Britannica.
As Henry Kissinger has argued, the test of history for the United States
will be whether we can turn our current predominant power into international
consensus, and our own principles into widely accepted international norms.
That was the greatness achieved by Rome and Britain in their times.
(c) 2002, NPQ/Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate
International, a division of Tribune Media Services
For immediate release (Distributed 3/4/02)