Arcana of Empire

arcana imperil – from Tacitus, the hidden motives and means of empire

By Benjamin Schwarz

No. 101-102, Winter/Spring 1994 SALMAGUNDI  Puck_cover2 With the end of the Cold War, the American foreign policy community has been avid to try something new. Having spent decades evaluating the drab minutiae of arms control and in other ways attempting to manage the seemingly eternal US-Soviet rivalry, the Pentagon and the State Department, the foundations, the think tanks and the luminaries of the foreign policy elite have eagerly answered the call to refashion America’s national security strategy. The flood of recent reports, articles and books that they have produced, however, is disappointing. After promising bold new thinking on America’s grand strategy, these writings boldly call for the status quo. Some take a nip here: the US can reduce its troop strength in Europe to 100,000 (“although not below that”). Others take a tuck there: “not all states are equally important to the United States” (although it would be “a mistake to ignore the spillover effects” of instability “on international order and on American interests”). In short, when these alterations are finished, the essentials of America’s “Cold War” strategy remain inviolate.

The “bottom up review” of US defense policy, released by the Clinton Administration in September 1993, is the most recent illustration of this stasis. Having promised a fundamental reassessment of America’s national security requirements, Pentagon planners concluded after six months of analysis that US security demands military spending of over $1.3 trillion over the next five years and the permanent commitment of at least 200,000 US troops in Europe and East Asia – in other words, a strategy remarkably similar to that which America pursued during the Cold War. Moreover, rather than relinquish America’s costly and risky responsibilities by dissolving Cold War alliances, the Administration now plans to expand NATO’s responsibilities eastward. Those who call for a more modest US defense policy argue that American defense plans seem like extravagance born of paranoia or of a defense establishment’s anxiety to protect its budget. In fact, however, given the way the United States has defined its interests since the Second World War, these plans are quite prudent. And that is the problem.

The demand for new strategies for a new world springs from the assumption that the Soviet “threat” fundamentally determined US diplomacy from 1945 until the end of the Cold War. Now that the USSR has disappeared, it would seem reasonable that American security policy would change profoundly. But this view presupposes that Washington’s Cold War grand strategy was – and that foreign policy in general is – a response to the pressures of other states. If, however, US security policy has been primarily determined not by external threats but by the apparent demands of America’s economy, then it would be no wonder that, despite the collapse of the Berlin Wall, those who call for new strategies are unable to devise them. Persuasively, albeit unwittingly, this is the argument that the foreign policy community advances today in its post-Cold War strategic reassessments. It is a view that traps the United States in a quandary, for as long as that community believes that America’s prosperity depends upon its current national security strategy, the country cannot free itself from the exhausting and perilous task of ordering the world, a task that was supposed to end with the Cold War. To appreciate the dilemma that arises when the United States seeks its domestic well-being in sources beyond its borders, we must examine those internal imperatives that dictate our foreign policy; in other words, we must explore that policy from the inside out.

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Diplomatic historians fall into two general categories. The tradition of innenpolitik argues that internal pressures mainly determine foreign policy. In contrast, the scholarship of aussenpolitik views relations among states as a realm apart from domestic politics and holds that a state* s foreign policy is determined mostly by the pressures of the international system. In assessing the forces that shape a country’s foreign policy, therefore, the aussenpolitik approach stresses strategic considerations and perceptions of external threats. This approach dominates the interpretation of American strategy since the Second World War. The history of US national security policy after 1945 is thus understood as the story of America’s response–sometimes paranoid, sometimes clumsy, occasionally prudent–to the threat of a superpower rival.

That such a view is misleading becomes apparent in the light of the critique of American Cold War strategy produced by the school of foreign policy known as “political realism.” Realism, which holds that gaining power and security are the primary foreign policy objectives of states (in contrast, say, to furthering an ideology or pursuing profits) is, of course, an expression of aussenpolitik. Believing, then, that external pressures determined strategy, many realists – including the most penetrating American foreign policy thinkers of this century, the diplomat George Kennan and the journalist Walter Lippmann – were convinced that much of America’s Cold War security policy was, in fact, irrational. Neither Kennan nor Lippmann, for example, could understand the US commitment in Vietnam, an area of no intrinsic strategic value. Nor, more important, could they understand why the American foreign policy elite met their suggestions for a mutual superpower disengagement from Europe with such hostility. Kennan and Lippmann’s goals in Europe were limited and specific. Defining America’s interest there as preventing the continent’s military domination by a single power, they perceived American policy in strategic, rather than ideological or “world order” terms. “It is to the Red Army in Europe and not to ideologies, elections, forms of government, to socialism, to communism, to free enterprise, that a correctly conceived and soundly planned policy should be directed,” Lippmann argued in 1947. Disengaging the United States and the Soviet Union from Europe (a proposal that most historians now believe would have stood a good chance of success) and thereby restoring a multipolar balance of power would be, Kennan and Lippmann reasoned, in America’s long term interest, for it would free the United States from its crushing responsibilities for others’ security and would reduce tensions between the superpowers.

As it happens, the foreign policy community had very clear reasons for wishing to maintain those responsibilities, but Kennan, Lippmann and other realists blamed America’ s seeming refusal to act realistically on what they saw as its wooly-headed penchant for viewing foreign policy as a moralizing crusade. This proclivity, the realists argued, dictated that US statesmen view the Soviet Union through an ideological lens, which distorted any conception of America’s true national interest, precluding the United States from seeking a reasonable and comprehensive settlement with the USSR and fueling four decades of Cold War. Thus, while most other powers deliberately and consistently pursued their interests, the United States, as the realists saw it, was a rather oafish public benefactor whose blundering “globalism” sprang from an illusory conviction that America would only be safe to the extent that the rest of the world was made ideologically like America.

In refusing to take US policymakers seriously, the realists went wrong. Throughout the post-war era, American interests and security commitments (at least the major ones) have been pursued deliberately and for consistent – if recondite – reasons, reasons not obvious to the public nor fully appreciated by the realist viewpoint. If ten years ago, well informed Americans had been asked why US troops were deployed in Europe and East Asia, they would have answered: to keep the Soviets out. They may have wondered, however, why the United States persisted in its strategy even after Western Europe, Japan and South Korea had become capable of defending themselves. Today, they are thoroughly bewildered. Now that the USSR itself has vanished, why does Washington continue to insist that an American-led NATO and the US defense commitments to East Asia are still indispensable to America’s security? If, on the other hand, National Security Council staffers, think tank analysts or State Department policy planners were asked about America’s globe-girdling security commitments, forty years ago, ten years ago or now, their answers would be consistent and different. They would justify American deployments overseas by invoking such terms as “shaping a favorable international environment,” “reassurance of allies,” and the on-going need for “leadership,” “stability” and “continuing engagement.” Even during the Cold War, the “Soviet threat” might not have been mentioned. The question this begs, however, is why has the awesome task of building a stable world been deemed so crucial to America; why have “stability” and “reassurance” been for nearly fifty years the mantra of the foreign policy cognoscenti?

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To understand the forces that have motivated American foreign policy since 1945, we must look not to the Soviet Union, but to ourselves; not primarily to the superpowers’ geopolitical rivalry, but to the ascendance of a vision that saw new requirements for America’s prosperity. From the end of the First World War through the 1930s, the American economy changed dramatically. While most of the economy was still organized in small firms and farms catering to the home market, the most rapidly growing and profitable sector comprised large, capital-intensive, advanced-technology corporations, investment banks and internationally- oriented commercial banks, all of which took the world market for their target. American capitalism was maturing. The international economy was America’s future – or so it seemed to the architects of America’s post- war foreign policy, who were themselves drawn almost exclusively from the world of east coast international business and finance.

These men had great hope for the future, for they believed that the United States could, using such implements as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the international monetary arrangements negotiated at Bretton Woods, build and manage a new, open, global political economy in which trade and capital flowed across national boundaries in response to the laws of supply and demand. Of course, in such a world, the United States, which dominated the international economy, would benefit enormously, but the entire world would benefit as well, since maximizing global production would maximize global consumption and thereby improve standards of living worldwide. This internationalist economic vision, which had fired the imagination of such members of the political and intellectual elite as Brooks and Henry Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of State Cordell Hull, had, with the changes in America’ s economic structure, at last gained the support of a politically significant sector of American business. This, combined with America’s power at the close of the Second World War, made statesmen believe that they could translate their vision into a reality. Such hopes were coupled with an uncomfortable recollection of the Great Depression from which the United States had emerged only through the stimulus of the war. Fear of a return to depression fueled the drive toward a post-war foreign policy that might guarantee America’s economic health. US statesmen were convinced that, as then Assistant Secretary of State (soon to become Secretary of State) Dean Acheson declared in 1944:

We cannot go through another ten years like the ten years at the end of the Twenties and the beginning of the Thirties, without having the most far-reaching consequences upon our economic and social system…. When we look at that problem we may say it is a problem of markets.

Acheson implicitly recognized that there was an alternative for the US economy that entailed neither chronic unemployment nor a reliance on international trade. During the Depression, some – including the economist John Maynard Keynes and the historian and political commentator Charles Beard – had argued that the American economy should adopt a radical and permanent expansion of the New Deal’s public investment and employment schemes: State intervention and planning should, it was argued, be used to maintain full employment of labor and industrial capacity. Even if certain goods might be more efficiently produced abroad, the beneficial employment effects of domestic production would justify restricting imports and capital flows. Such a program would, of course, have demanded a large degree of national economic self-sufficiency. But to Acheson, this alternative was anathema, smacking of Soviet autarky, and was thus summarily dismissed:

If you wish to control the entire trade and income of the United States, which means the life of the people, you could probably fix it so that everything produced here would be consumed here, but that would completely change our constitution, our relations of property, human liberty, our very conceptions of law. And nobody contemplates that.

To Acheson and the other designers of America’ s Cold War foreign policy, there was only one solution: “We cannot have full employment and prosperity in the United States without foreign markets.” As Acheson recognized, America’s anxieties, together with its hopes, compelled the United States to create and maintain an open world economy. To Washington, building an international capitalist system demanded that the United States provide Western Europe and Japan with massive economic aid (through such schemes as the Marshall Plan and the offshore procurement program), so that those regions could overcome the payments deficits that encouraged statist economies.

But US policymakers knew that an open world economy demanded an even more ambitious American project. It dictated that the United States fundamentally alter international politics. The danger to American democracy and prosperity, as statesmen saw it, came not primarily from the Soviet Union but from Germany and Japan, since their strength was both necessary and potentially disastrous for the multinational capitalist community the United States was intent on constructing. An industrialized Germany, for instance, would be Europe’ s most cost competitive producer and its most effective consumer. Without full German participation in the European economy, there could be no revitalization of an international economy and that, as then Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Will Clayton warned in 1949, would spell the beginning of the end for “our democratic free enterprise system.” But, as future Secretary of State John Foster Dulles explained in a closed Senate hearing in 1949, while Germany’s integration with Western Europe was imperative, Western Europeans were “afraid to bring that strong, powerful, highly concentrated group of people into unity with them.” Similarly, a strong Japan was at once essential to Asia’s economy and intolerable to its neighbors.

The problem lay in the inherent contradiction between capitalist economies and international politics. The essential character of capitalism is international. Capitalist economies are naturally driven toward international integration and inter- dependence because the more fluid and mobile the factors of production, the greater the opportunities for maximizing profits and accumulating capital. But while all states benefit absolutely in an open international economy, some states benefit more relative to others. In a world of competitive international politics in which states are responsible for their own sustenance and military defense, this relative distribution of power is a country’s principal concern, and it discourages interdependence. In an effort to overtake other powers, to guard against dependence on potentially unfriendly states, or to preserve its relative position, a country will impose trade restrictions, protective tariffs and capital controls, and it will develop nationalist (often military) industries. Its inclination, then, is to “nationalize,” – to pursue autarkic policies – thus restricting both production factors and markets and thereby fragmenting the international economy. In the normal course of world politics, therefore, international capitalism is always at risk, either from wars, which disrupt and destroy markets, or from states’ peacetime efforts to ensure that economic power is distributed in their favor, at the expense of their actual or potential rivals.

Thus, an international economy based on free trade is not a natural or inevitable state of affairs. In fact, as Princeton political economist Robert Gilpin remarks, “what today we call international economic interdependence runs so counter to the great bulk of human experience that only extraordinary changes and novel circumstances could have led to its innovation and triumph over other means of economic exchange.” Historically, the only way to overcome the dangers to capitalism that are inherent to international politics is for a preponderant power to take care of other states’ security problems for them, so that they need not pursue autarkic policies in attempts to improve their relative positions. International capitalism has enjoyed only two golden ages: the periods following the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the two World Wars in 1945. The key to both ofthese episodes ofpeace and prosperity has been the same: the ability and will of a single state to arrogate for itself the role of hegemonic power.

After the Second World War, US policymakers recognized that only the United States could achieve the prerequisite for an open world economy – assuaging Western Europe’s and Asia’s fears about German and Japanese economic, military and political dominance. Thus, Wash- ington committed itself to building and maintaining an international political order based upon what officials at the time termed an American “preponderance of power.” By providing for Germany’s and Japan’s security and by enmeshing their military and foreign policies into alliances that it dominated, the United States contained its erstwhile enemies, preventing its “partners'” from embarking upon independent (and, by Washington’s thinking, potentially dangerous) policies. This stabilized relations among the states of Western Europe and of East Asia, for by controlling Germany and Japan, the United States “reassured” their neighbors that these most powerful allies would remain pacific. The leash of America’s security leadership thereby constrained the dogs of war; by, in effect, banishing power politics and nationalist rivalries, NATO and the US-Japan alliance protected the states of Western Europe and East Asia from themselves. Freed from the fears and competitions that had for centuries kept them nervously looking over their shoulders, the West Europeans and East Asians were able to cooperate politically and economically. As then Secretary of State Dean Rusk explained in 1967: “The presence of our forces in Europe under NATO has contributed to the development of intra- European cooperation. ..But withouthe visible assurance of a sizable American contingent, old frictions may revive, and Europe could become unstable once more.”

Recognizing that Europe and East Asia could not be left to their own devices in the post-Cold War world, or once again the weak would fear the strong and the strong would fear each other, Wash- ington pursued not balance and diversity, but hegemony. This preponderance, not merely in relationship to the Soviet Union, but within the Western sphere, ensured the tranquil world environment in which an open economic system could operate. Thus, America’s foreign policy has been “imperialist” in the non-pejorative sense of the extension of great power influence for economic purposes. Like Britain’s in the nineteenth century, the aim of America’s world order imperialism has not been to capture colonies nor to plunder and exploit but has been instead to establish the stable political environment necessary for international economic interdependence. In this sense, Lenin was right. Imperialism is (or allows for) “the highest stage of capitalism” – an open economy among the industri- alized countries.

1101510108_400The primary purpose behind America’ s “Cold War” policy, then, had little to do with containing the Soviet Union, even though the Soviet threat was used to justify that policy to a nationalist and often protectionist public and Congress (a strategy described by Senator Arthur Vandenberg as “scaring hell out of the American people” to secure an internationalist agenda). The Kremlin’s irrelevance to America’s post-war planning was acknowledged in NSC-68, the National Security Council’s 1950 blueprint for America’s Cold War strategy, which defined the security policy it advocated “as one designed to foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish.”  This “policy of attempting to develop a healthy international community,” NSC-68′ s authors went on to assert, was “a policy which we would probably pursue even if there was no Soviet threat.” In fact, America’s “Cold War” alliances, organized ostensibly to contain the USSR, were formed at a time when US statesmen “did not expect and were not worried about Soviet aggression,” as historian Melvyn Leffler, author of the most comprehensive study of the origins of the Cold War, has concluded.

Moreover, US officials recognized that their Cold War strategy actually exacerbated US-Soviet tensions. Kennan’s arguments for the neutralization and unification of Germany and the consequent disengagement of the superpowers from the continent were consistently rejected by all other high officials, who argued that the resuscitation of German power demanded ever greater American control in Europe, lest Germany’s strength intimidate its neighbors and hence set back economic integration. US statesmen thought an accord could probably be negotiated with the Kremlin, but an open West European economy, which perforce demanded American hegemony in Europe to contain Germany, was more important than working out a comprehensive German settlementhat would end the division of Europe and relax tensions with the Soviets. In 1949 the CIA put the matter succinctly: “The real issue is not the settlement of Germany [i.e. ending the Cold War] but the long term control of German power.” By 1957, Kennan, grappling with why his ideas for withdrawing US and Soviet troops from Europe “appealed] so dangerous and heretical” to official Washington, was forced to conclude that American statesmen “would not have considered the withdrawal of a single American battalion from Western Germany and Poland even if the Russians had been willing to evacuate all of Eastern Germany and Poland by way of compensation.”  While Kennan had long believed that America’s European policy was motivated by an ill-considered ideological reaction to the Soviets, he now came to realize that US preponderance in Europe served aspirations that were unrelated to the Soviet Union.

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The conviction that America’s prosperity depends upon international economic interdependence and that the precondition for economic interdependence is the geopolitical stability and reassurance that flow from America’s security commitments continues to animate America’s national security strategy. Then Secretary of State James Byrnes’ s 1945 explanation of the motive behind American foreign policy – ‘Our interna- tional policies and our domestic policies are inseparable; our foreign relations inevitably affect employment in the United States” – remains the formula Washington follows today. In fact, according to this reasoning, the weaker the US economy grows, the more energetically America must pursue world stability, as Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate’s most respected foreign policy expert, asserted in August 1993 when he called for Ameri- can leadership to revive NATO. Employing the same argument used by former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Lugar explained:

Trading within our own borders is insufficient to lead us out of economic difficulty; sustained economic growth requires an ability to export vigorously abroad. Full participation in the international market place requires a degree of stability and security in the international environment that only American power and leadership can provide.

The apparent connections among the requirements of an international capitalist economy, America’s economic well-being and its defense com- mitments have been repeated so often that Anthony Lake, President Clinton’s National Security Adviser, conflated the supposed dictates of prosperity with those of national security in announcing the Administration’s new foreign policy doctrine in September. Explaining that “the expansion of market-based economies abroad helps expand our exports and create American jobs,” Lake declared that America’s new “security mission” is the “enlargement of the world’s community of market democracies.”

Since the United States’ prosperity is believed to be inextricably linked to its role as global pacifier, America’s “leadership” in ameliorating others’ security problems – manifest in its Cold War alliances- continues to be thought vital despite the Soviet Union’s demise. After all, the now infamous draft of the Pentagon’s classified “post-Cold War” Defense Planning Guidance, which gave the public an unprecedented glimpse into the thinking that informs America’s defense strategy when it was leaked in March 1992, merely restated in somewhat undiplomatic language the logic behind America’s “Cold War” reassurance strategy. Since American preponderance is essential for maintaining stability in Europe and East Asia, the United States must, the Planning Guidance asserted, “discourage the advanced industrialized nations [read: Japan and Germany] from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger global or regional role.” To accomplish this, the United States must provide what one of the Planning Guidance’s authors termed “adult supervision.”2 It must protect the interests of virtually all potential great powers for them so that they need not acquire the capabilities to protect themselves, that is, so that they need not act like great powers. The very existence of truly independent actors would be intolerable to the US, for it would disrupt American hegemony, the key to a stable world. The draft Planning Guidance’s “post Cold War” preponderance strategy, then, reflects what Leffler defines as the imperative of America’s Cold War national security policy: that “neither an integrated Europe, nor a united Germany nor an independent Japan must be permitted to emerge as a third force.”

America’s so-called allies were understandably troubled by the impolitic language of the draft Planning Guidance, so the Pentagon issued a sanitized, un-classified version in January 1993. While the revised Defense Planning Guidance may give less offense, its message is the same. America’s security strategy, it argues, sustains the open economic system upon which America’s prosperity rests. By, in effect, imposing a military protectorate in Europe and East Asia, America’s Cold War alliances, the Planning Guidance avers, ensure “a prosperous, largely democratic, market-oriented zone of peace and prosperity that encompasses more than two-thirds of the world’s economy.” This makes maintaining these alliances America’s “most vital” foreign policy priority.

Then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Alberto Coll ‘s 1993 application of this argument to East Asia specifically reveals the degree to which Washington sees its national security strategy as serving domestic economic imperatives. “In the future,” Coll declared, “the stability of the Pacific Basin and a strong US-Japanese relationship will be more impor- tant to the United States than ever before. The US economy needs the vast markets of the Pacific Rim, and it benefits enormously from Japanese investment capital and technology.” But, according to Coll, all these benefits would be lost if the “traditional rivalries among Asian powers…unravel into unrestrained military competition, conflict and aggression.” To Washington, there is only one way to guarantee the all- important stability of the region. The United States, Coll argues, must “hold in check” those traditional rivalries by sustaining its preponderance in East Asia, thus “making it unnecessary for Japan to maintain large offensive military capabilities, and reassuring other regional powers.” In keeping with this argument, although the United States had ostensibly committed forces to Japan to protect it from the Soviet Union and to South Korea to protect it from North Korea, Secretary of Defense William Perry (then Undersecretary of Defense) declared in May 1993 that America would demonstrate its commitment to reassuring and stabilizing East Asia by maintaining troops “permanently” in Japan and even in a future unified Korea.

Even America’s nuclear preponderance serves this country’s economic needs, according to a classified Pentagon report on the strategic importance of America’s nuclear superiority in the post-Cold War era, leaked in 1 99 1 . Rejecting the notion that the only purpose of nuclear arms is to deter nuclear attack, the report explained that America’s nuclear preponderance helps “sustain the nation ‘ s prestige and deter Germany and Japan from developing nuclear arsenals of their own.” If Washington’s former enemies were to acquire nuclear weapons, the report argued, the concomitant political and military “re-nationalization” in Europe and East Asia would close the world economy, upon which America’s prosperity depends. Thus, the report concluded with the seemingly bizarre assertion that America “must keep nuclear weapons to protect… a healthy and growing US economy.”3

Last year President Clinton stated (echoing Byrnes’ s argument 48 years earlier) that “a global economy has changed the linkages between our domestic and foreign policies and, I would argue, has made them indivisible.” If this reasoning is accepted, then America’ s security strategy inexorably follows. Economic interdependence dictates security commit- ments. As long as world politics remain what they have always been, Europe and East Asia will be potentially unstable. And as long as US prosperity is understood to depend upon the stability of those regions, the United States must pacify them. This leads to a dismal conclusion. America’s worldwide security commitments are a truly permanent bur- den. They amount to taking the wolf by the ears: how could America ever let go? Arguing last year for the maintenance of the US reassurance strategy in Asia and Europe, a high ranking Pentagon official asked “if we pull out, who knows what nervousness will result?” The problem, of course, is that America can never know and, therefore, according to the assumptions underpinning its security policy, it must always stay.

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Today’s realists, who assume that others view national security policy through a narrow strategic lens rather than through a wider economic and political one, and who therefore argue that conflict in the former Yugoslavia is no danger to the United States, must take a second look to understand why foreign policy establishment figures as different as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Cyrus Vance share a conviction that vital American interests are ultimately imperiled by Balkan turmoil. Ludicrous as it may seem at first glance, the fighting in the former Yugoslavia worries policymakers not so much for the humanitarian reasons that have received so much attention, but largely because they fear that instability in the Balkans will damage the American economy.

The interventionists’ argument that America must lead efforts to pacify the former Yugoslavia is merely an extension of the argument that America must lead in European security affairs, generally. In a memorandum written before his appointment, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Ochmanek urged US military action in Bosnia, explaining that since American “prosperity is intimately tied to that of the Europeans,” the United States must “maintain its capacity to influence decision-making in Europe.” Because NATO is “an essential source of US influence,” Washington must continue to lead European security efforts- including undertakings to stanch instability in the Balkans. “If we want a seat at the table when the Europeans make decisions about trade and financial policy,” Ochmanek reasoned, “we can’t pretend that messy security problems in Europe are not our concern as well.”4 If the American-dominated NATO demonstrates that it cannot or will not address Europe’s post-Cold War security problems (for instance, the “spillover” of ethnic fighting, “massive refugee flows” into Western Europe and the possibility that these could ignite ultra-nationalist feelings in, say, Germany), then the Alliance will be impotent. Atlanticists maintain that if the main instrument of US leadership and “reassurannce” is thus crippled, then the post-Cold War continent will lapse into that same old bad habit the Alliance was supposed to suppress power politics–shattering cooperation in Western Europe. What, then, is the result of this scenario? The United States will suffer high levels of unemployment, as former Director of the National Security Agency General William Odom argues:

Only a strong NATO with the U.S. centrally involved can prevent Western Europe from drifting into national parochialism and eventual regression from its present level of economic and political cooperation. Failure to act effectively in Yugoslavia will accelerate this drift. That trend toward disorder will not only affect U.S. security interests but also U.S. economic interests. Our economic interdependency with Western Europe creates large numbers of American jobs.5

This appreciation of the disastrous consequences regional instability might have for America’s hegemonic position and consequently for international political cooperation and, ultimately, for economic integration is the missing link that connects instability in the Balkans to American national interests. Unfortunately, there are all too many other situations in which the same connections can very plausibly be made.

According to the logic of Washington’s global strategy, while the end of the superpower rivalry has reduced US security risks and commitments in some respects, it has in other ways expanded the frontiers of America’s insecurity. During the Cold War, stability in Europe could be assured by the Soviets sitting on and the Americans smothering their respective clients. In fact, this superpower condominium, while crushing to the Europeans, was probably the best means of insuring America’s overriding economic and political interest in the stability of the continent, as American statesmen have often privately acknowledged. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union, its former charges have become unrestrained and consequently free to make trouble for each other and for Western Europe. As former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Zalmay Khalilzad, one of the chief architects of the Bush Administration’ s “new world order” policy, asserts, “Western and East Central European stability are becoming increasingly intertwined. For example, turmoil in East Central Europe could drive hundreds of thousands of refugees into Western Europe challenging political stability in key countries, especially Germany.” Moreover, Khalilzad argues, Western Europe’s prosperity, upon which America’ a own economic health depends, is increasingly tied to economic relations with Eastern Europe, and US direct economic interest in that region has also grown considerably, since “East Central Europe offers new and potentially expansive markets for US goods, investments and services.” Finally, American strategists fear that if the newly independent states of Eastern and Central Europe are not enmeshed in multilateral security arrangements under US “leadership,” the region could once again become a political-military tinderbox as it was in the 1920s and 30s, with the Baltic countries, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech and Slovak republics, Hungary and Romania worrying about each other and with all of them worrying about Germany. And, the argument goes, as in the past, Germany’s involvement in Eastern European rivalries could alarm its Western neighbors as well, threatening the stability of the entire continent.

So America’ s responsibilities multiply. The Clinton Administration 6 and a growing number of the foreign policy elite have joined Khalilzad in asserting that these conditions dictate that the US-led NATO must be “transformed.” As Lugar argues, since European stability “is a precondition for American domestic renewal” and since that stability is now threatened by “those areas in the east and south where the seeds of future conflict in Europe lie,” the US-led NATO must now stabilize both halves of the continent by extending a collective security system to all of Europe and possibly to Ukraine and the Baltic states. In other words, the United States must assume the preponderant role in maintaining peace within and among the states in a region riven by ethnic, religious and nationalist animosities and possessed by irredentist and nationalist fervor, regions in which most all borders are in dispute. The proponents of this policy acknowledge that spreading America’s security blanket over so inhospitable an area demands that the United States retain a substantial number of troops in Europe. Indeed, this view of threats to America leads inevitably to Cold War-era military budgets. Therefore, it is not surprising that NATO’s defense ministers declared in May 1993 that despite the dissolution of the very enemy that NATO was ostensibly formed to contain, cuts in military spending had to be immediately halted, for otherwise the alliance would be unable to fulfill what NATO’s Secretary General termed its “expanded range of missions.” The peace dividend, in effect, is over.

Realists, the foreign policy community maintains, can argue all they want that the plethora of potential hot spots in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have no immediate strategic importance to the United States, but instability in these regions is intrinsically insidious to America’ s interests. So, America must take the lead in attempts to alleviate it. The liberal foreign policy commentator Walter Russell Mead, who in the past has called for the diminution of America’s commitments abroad, says that he favors the United States having a cooperative, rather than a dominant, relationship with its allies. But Mead, reflecting the dilemma of American security policy, is unable to reconcile America’s need to lighten its international burdens with his recognition of the dangerous economic consequences of America’s abdicating its leadership role. The United States, Mead asserts, cannot even allow its “partners” to assume primary responsibility for quelling the instability that, after all, most affects them. Maintaining that a “closed Europe is a gun pointed at America’s head,” Mead argues that:

In a well-intentioned effor to stabilize Eastern Europe, Western Europe, led by Germany, could establish something like Napoleon’s projected Continental System. Eastern Europe and North Africa would supply the raw materials, certain agricultural products, and low-wage industrial labor. Western Europe would provide capital and host the high-value-added and high-tech industries.. .A Europe of this kind would inevitably put most of its capital into its own backyard, and it would close its markets to competitors from the rest of the world. It would produce its VCRs in Poland, not China; it would buy its wheat from Ukraine, rather than the Dakotas.

Given that the actions Washington’s allies would take to forestall instability in the absence of American leadership would apparently lead to US economic disaster, it seems that the United States must forever remain – in former President Bush’s words – the world’s “sole superpower.”

The foreign policy establishment’s anxiety concerning the effects of regional instability on the European political situation and ultimately on international economic interdependence extends to unstable regions far from Europe. For example, then Secretary of State James Baker’s assertion, which many found dismaying, that the United States had to counter Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait to save American jobs reflects, if oversimplifies, official opinion on the importance of Persian Gulf security to the United States. During the Gulf Crisis, Washington asserted that Baghdad’s control of Kuwaiti oil would provoke a worldwide depres- sion, devastating to the US economy. Economists and critics of American policy countered that the effects of even a worst case scenario – that is, Iraqi control of the oil fields not only of Kuwait but of Saudi Arabia and of all the Gulf Emirates – would have cost the US economy less than what America pays in defense costs to ensure access to “cheap” Persian Gulf oil. But such criticism could not dissuade policymakers because their real fears of the economic risks of instability in the Gulf were far more complex than their rhetoric suggested.

Baker did not – and current officials do not – fear the direct economic effects of instability in the Gulf for the United States. While Washington appreciates that the diversity of oil supply ensures that no single country can put a stranglehold on it, policymakers are wary of the psychological and political effects that even a temporary oil price shock in Europe and Japan might have on the stable system America must maintain. Believing that tranquillity and democracy in Germany and Japan are fragile, US officials fear that a sudden economic downturn in these states could cause a repeat of the 1930s: recession and unemployment bring extreme nationalist forces to the fore in Germany and Japan; this in turn intensifies political tensions among the states of Europe and of East Asia; defense, foreign and economic policies in the countries of these regions are “re-nationalized”; the open economic system slams shut and the world crashes into depression. So Germany and Japan must have unthreatened access to Persian Gulf oil. At the same time, however, consistent with the assumptions underlying US national security strategy, America cannot allow these countries to protect their own interests in the Gulf (i.e. develop naval, air and ground forces capable of world-wide “power projection”), since other states cannot act as independent great powers if the United States is to retain the role of hegemon that ultimately sustains the world economy.

This line of reasoning – that if a hegemon must ensure the stability of a region on which it apparently depends, it must also secure those areas on which that region depends – nicely illustrates what historian Paul Kennedy calls “imperial overstretch.” If America must guarantee the stability of a potentially unstable Europe, then logic seemingly dictates that it must guard against instability that could infect Europe. Hence, the foreign policy community’s recent spate of reports on what is termed America’s “post-Cold War security agenda” argues that NATO must not only pacify Eastern Europe and the European states of the former Soviet Union, but that it also must ensure stability in the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union (since instability there could spread to Turkey, which could, in turn, spur massive immigration to Western Europe, destabilizing that region) and in North Africa (again because of the supposed harm to US interests that would result from the potential political effects of a wave of immigration in Western Europe.) This logic, so reminiscent of the domino theory, suggests that the logic of economic interdependence leads to a proliferation of American “security” commitments in what all agree is an unstable new world order.7

* * *

Although this strategy very well fulfills one set of America’s perceived economic needs, it is not viable. For one thing, the United States is in a fiscal crisis that is very deep, that has been gathering for a long time, and that if not resolved will damage the country profoundly. Forty-five years of world leadership have taken their toll. The links among heavy military spending, fiscal imbalance and the weakening of the economy are too clear to ignore. America is over-consuming and under-investing. Too much of this consumption – over 50% of all discretionary federal spend- ing – is still devoted to defense, depriving land, labor and industry of resources urgently needed to increase productivity. To be sure, the military budget is now a smaller portion of federal spending than in the 1950s and 1960s, but in constant dollars defense spending is still at Cold War levels. Nineteen percent of the federal budget – $274 billion in 1993 – is a substantial share to spend on defense, and America continues to spend a far higher portion of its GNP on its national security needs than do other major industrial states; in fact, the United States spends more on national security than the rest of the world’s countries combined. Com- pounding this fiscal crisis, America cannot simply reduce spending; it must in fact spend – or, as Mr. Clinton would say, invest – far more in children, education and training, infrastructure, and research and development in the coming decades if it is to improve its economic condition and to advance as a society. The United States faces social and structural economic problems of a magnitude unknown to other economically advanced states. It has higher rates of infant mortality, illiteracy, malnutrition, and poverty than any other advanced industrialized country. With the end of the Cold War, most Americans expect that the country will divert its attention and resources to these long-overlooked internal problems, but with the national security strategy the United States has chosen, these resources will continue to be unavailable. In fact, because of the historical pattern of inexorably increasing demands on hegemons, even more resources will need to be applied in the future to support this strategy.

To maintain that America can continue at anything like its current level of defense spending without damaging its economy is incorrect and irresponsible. But to suggest that the United States can afford to reduce that spending significantly is, given the assumptions underlying the past half century of US strategy, simply wrong. Most foreign policy reformers assert that America’s enormous defense costs are the product of globalist overextension. America’s strategic dilemma, they argue, can be resolved easily and painlessly by simply balancing its commitments and resources. But criticizing US policy for overextension fails to take America’ s security considerations seriously. To argue that America’s defense spending is the result of its being overcommitted provokes the question: what commitments, precisely, can be jettisoned? US strategists would happily allow that instability in, say, Burkina Faso is not a matter of vital interest to the United States and so cutting US security assistance there would not endanger America. But, of course, such commitments are not what drives Washington’s security policy, and so account for very little of the defense budget.

The driving force behind the US defense posture is the perceived need to ensure order by exercising hegemony in regions composed of wealthy and technologically sophisticated states and to take care of such nuisances as Sadaam Hussein, Kim II Sung and Slobidan Milosevic so that potential great powers need not acquire the means to take care of those problems themselves. While retrenchment from these positions may seem economically attractive, it would, following the logic of American secu- rity strategy, carry enormous risks. “The United States, as a great power, has essentially taken on the task of sustaining the world order,” former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger concisely explains. “And any abandonment of major commitments is difficult to reconcile with that imposing task.”

Invincible Spirit Exercise In East Sea

 

“Shaping the strategic environment,” to use post-Cold War Pentagon jargon, requires today, as it has for the past 45 years, the maintenance and ability to deploy large and technologically advanced US forces. America must convince others not only that it is committed to the security of their regions, but that it is capable of acting on that commit- ment. Reassuring Western Europe, even absent a military threat to the continent, cost the United States $100 billion last year. Stabilizing East Asia took another $46 billion. In defense you get what you pay for, and America’s “adult supervision” strategy means that – if its lucky – it must pay forever.

The United States, then, is caught in a dilemma that eventually ensnares all hegemons. Stabilizing the international system is a wasting proposition. While other states benefit from the stability the predominant power provides, they have little incentive to pay their “fair share” of the costs of protection since the hegemon will defend the status quo in its own interests, regardless of what these lesser states contribute. Just as Britain, as the guarantor of world stability in the nineteenth century, spent more than twice as much on defense as France or Germany, even though the latter countries’ neighborhood was more perilous, so the United States today spends six times as much on defense as Japan and more than three and a half times as much as Germany, though Japan and Germany are less secure than America. (It is unfair, however, to call America’s allies “free riders.” While US statesmen have for 45 years whined that Japan and Germany should share more of the burden, at the same time they have insisted – consistent with a strategy of preponderance – that only America can lead “cooperative” defense efforts.)

Forced to place such importance on “security,” the hegemon directs capital, creativity and attention from the civilian sector, even as other states, freed from onerous spending for security, add resources to economically productive investments. This leads over time to the erosion of the preponderant power’s relative economic strength. As economic, and hence military, capabilities deteriorate, so does the very comparative advantage over other powers upon which hegemony is founded. The hegemon’ s declining advantage spurs the emergence of great power rivals, requiring the hegemon to spend more on defense to maintain its preponderance, which, of course, only further deteriorates its comparative advantage. And as its relative power declines, the international stability that the hegemon assured is, perforce, unsettled.

* * *

Most important, even without the burden of high defense spend- ing the United States is simply less and less able to order and pacify the world. The Pax Americana depended upon America’s preponderant strength in the decades following the Second World War; probably never in history did one state so dominate the international system. But history affords no more remarkable reversal of fortune in a relatively short period of time than the erosion of American hegemony in the late twentieth century . “Decline” is rarely absolute – a hegemon does not become poorer or weaker than it was before its rise to preponderance. Instead, decline is relative, in that a hegemon is overtaken by challengers who rise faster or further. While the United States has accelerated its fall (most notably by an astonishing rise in domestic consumption relative to savings and investment), the world wide economic system that the US has protected and fostered has, itself, largely determined the country’s relative decline, even as it has contributed to its prosperity. For those concerned with maintaining American predominance, the problem with economic inter- dependence is that it has worked all too well. Through trade, foreign investment and the spread of technology and managerial expertise, economic power has diffused from the United States to new centers of economic growth. Thus, for instance, while in 1945 Japan and Western Europe were technologically behind the United States, thanks to the open world economy, they soon adopted and improved the interwar technolo- gies – cars, synthetic fibers, consumer durables and electronics – that America had developed and which contributed so much to US economic power. This rapidly closed the industrial and technological gap between the United States and its global partners. Furthermore, since an open world economy demands the exploitation of comparative advantage and the free flow of capital, as rates of profit in the United States fell because of capital accumulation, and as domestic wage bills grew, industry and investment migrated from the United States to the new centers of industrial growth.

These developments are not “bad” for America economically. Most everyone – including all US consumers – benefits absolutely from the most efficient production of industrial goods in an open world economy. But to focus solely on the immediate economic consequences of the spread of economic growth and high technology industries is to overlook the political effects of the diffusion of economic strength on the relative distribution of power in the international system. With a shift in the international distribution of economic strength, American hegemony, of necessity, has been undermined. Thus, an open international economy carries within it the seeds of its own destruction, for economic interdependence, which depends upon the stability a hegemon provides, disperses power and thereby eventually destroys the hegemon’s relative dominance, the very political foundation upon which interdependence rests. America, then, is in a bind. The global economic system that it believes is necessary for its prosperity weakens the very condition – American preeminence – that makes that system viable. And attempts to maintain its hegemony through security leadership only further weaken its position in the long run.

The United States has defined a very difficult role for itself; its foreign policy, in fact, is dedicated to sustaining the unsustainable. To be sure, some optimists hold that America can escape this quandary by reaping the reward of hegemony – world order – without paying for it. According to this argument, America can “lead” but in “partnership” with other like-minded states. This is an oxymoron. Multilateral enterprises, from juries to UN police actions, require a leader. The indispensable foundation of cooperation and integration in the Western security and economic systems was – and remains – American hegemony. The rather strident assertions of every American President since Truman of the need for American preeminence in European security affairs, for instance, stems less from an overbearing chauvinism than from a realization that, as Acheson wrote in 1952, arguing for the necessity of the NATO alliance, “unity in Europe requires the continuing leadership of the United States; without it [Western] Europe would split apart.” To hold that America can safely relinquish its hegemony because the political, economic and mili- tary cooperation among the great powers now ensures stability and peace is to put the cart before the horse. Stability in Western Europe and East Asia, guaranteed by American preponderance, was the precondition for cooperation, not vice versa. There is no reason to believe that, without this guarantor, stability will take on a life of its own. “To look,” as Alexander Hamilton warned, “for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent and unconnected sovereignties, situated in the same neigh- borhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of the ages.”

The nature of international politics will not change to solve America’s security quandary. In fact, given the inevitable rise of other great powers and trends toward greater regional instability, the wolf the United States is now holding by the ears is likely to grow increasingly feisty, making America’ s strategy of preponderance more problematic and expensive.8

* * *

Discussion of US “post Cold War” foreign policy has revolved around stale generalizations about morality and foreign policy, self- satisfied assertions of the need for America to “remain engaged abroad” and the familiar tactical arguments about when, where and how to intervene militarily in foreign quarrels. This sort of dialogue fails to illuminate the important questions. It is time for Americans to stop debating what is and is not America’s “mission” in the world and instead to assess the viability, costs and benefits of attempting to maintain the international requirements of the US economy. Americans must acknowl- edge, as did Kennan forty years ago, the dilemma inherent in defining their prosperity in terms of economic security abroad. Despairing over the implications of the new doctrine of “national security,” Kennan noted: “To what end – security? For the continuation of our economic expan- sion? But our economic expansion cannot proceed much further without… creating new problems of national security much more rapidly than we can ever hope to solve them.”

Furthermore, any cost accounting of the American empire must consider more than its palpable price. The connection between America’s security strategy and the disintegration of its inner cities, say, is not limited to the material resources that a devotion to the former diverts from the latter. The conviction that the United States must pacify the world to ensure its welfare transforms national security from a means of defense to a gate of escape, a way of evading America’s domestic contradictions and conflicts. Rather than confront and redress the imbalances and irresponsibilities in the domestic political economy, this imperial formula for prosperity substitutes growth, in the form of overseas economic expansion, for social justice. Defining the essentials of American welfare – and explaining the failure to resolve America’s problems – in terms of activities outside the United States cannot help but lead to an indifference toward and neglect of internal developments. If the United States designs its foreign policy around the notion that, in Lugar’ s words, its “domestic well being” is “heavily dependent on stability, economic reform and the growth of market economic and democratic institutions abroad,” then, as Beard warned in 1948, “the domestic affairs of the American people become appendages to an aleatory expedition in the management of the world.”

But, while US national security policy may be dangerous and damaging, any significant change in that policy necessarily demands radical change in the US economy, since the strategy, as its makers acknowledge, grows out of the structural requirements of American capitalism. Such changes may- and in anything but the long run will – present as many difficulties as they eliminate.

One may at first argue with Christopher Lasch’ s assertion that any fundamental critique of American foreign policy must “simultaneously take the form of.. .an indictment of capitalism itself.” Keynes’s and Beard’s programs in the 1930s, for instance, tried to reconcile capitalism with non-interventionist foreign policies by proposing autarkic capitalism – what Keynes called “national self-sufficiency”; a “solution” they embraced even more for what they believed would be the welcome changes it would permit in foreign policy than for what they saw would be its enormous domestic social benefits. As Keynes recognized, “the progress of economic imperialism” – that is, “a great concentration of national effort on the capture of foreign trade and the… protection of foreign [economic] interests” – is “a scarcely avoidable part” of economic internationalism. Both Keynes and Beard hoped, therefore, that the domestic economic restructuring each proposed would allow for a more circumscribed and less expensive national security policy.

But this restructuring would have been radical, indeed. While Keynes and Beard proposed that the means of production should, for the most part, remain in private hands, both also held that almost all international economic transactions would have to be organized by the state. In this way, foreign trade would be controlled and the outflow of capital would be severely limited. “Ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality, travel – these are the things which of their nature should be international,” Keynes argued, “but let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible, and above all, let finance be primarily national.” Both Keynes and Beard hoped that this way of organizing the economy would insulate the working class from the pressures and whims of international market forces and from the economic behavior of other states and would ensure that capital would be kept at home where it could benefit the state and the state’s working class. Prosperity was not to be pursued in the world market, but in the domestic economy, through the redistribution of wealth and massive public works projects “to sustain continuous and expanding buying power among the people,” thereby eliminating the need to export goods and capital.

Of course, such solutions are hardly “capitalist,” or at least, are scarcely consistent with the economic and political notions that have prevailed in the United States, where they would be considered more socialist than capitalist. Whether socialist or capitalist, plans that promise to alter fundamentally the domestic political economy in the name of national self-sufficiency are even more politically unthinkable now than they were 50 years ago, when Acheson dismissed them out of hand.

Most important, Keynes’ s and Beard’s schemes originated when the advanced economies were far less interdependent than they are now; capitalism has matured considerably in last half century. National self- sufficiency is not an option at this late date – at least not one that would be freely chosen. America cast its economic lot with liberal internationalism long ago, and it has succeeded in making the internationalists’ dream – a world economy- a reality. A global economy is addictive: In embracing a system permeated by international market forces, a state’s economy is perforce restructured profoundly, and it becomes bound to the world market by complicated patterns of trade, production, and finance. Having lost its economic autonomy, the United States would find a break from the global economy traumatic, involving years of economic contraction and readjustment and, given the strength of international market forces, requiring severe political measures to maintain.

But, while the price of reversing course, of forsaking economic internationalism, is prohibitively high, the social costs of continuing to depend on the international economy may well be enormous. As Keynes and Beard recognized, the more open a state is to the world market, the more vulnerable its population is to international market forces. And, in an increasingly open global economy, a state will be less and less able to modulate, let alone control, the domestic effects of those forces. A country committed to economic internationalism will grow economically, but significant sectors of its population will suffer labor dislocation and a decline in income and will be plagued by economic insecurity, as the domestic economy constantly responds to the global economy’s changing demands and accelerating shifts in comparative advantage. In short, as the NAFTA debate adumbrated, the principles of the welfare state are not – in fact, cannot be – reconciled with the logic of an open world economy. In the truly interdependent world that US hegemony has allowed to emerge, America’s economic growth will likely come at the price of profound social cleavages and potentially intense social conflict.

If adhering to America’s present political economy and its concomitant national security policy still seems the best of bad alternatives, it must be remembered that not only is America’ s current policy risky and expensive, it is also, as we have seen, unsustainable. Therefore, while it may be inconceivable that the United States would choose a non- capitalist “solution” to its foreign policy conundrum, such a “solution” may nevertheless be imposed upon it, as the demands of international capitalism collide with the realities of international politics.

As capitalism has become more complex and “advanced,” it has become more fragile. For instance, today the emergent high technology industries are the most powerful engines of world economic growth, but they require a level of specialization and a breadth of markets that is possible only in an integrated world economy. Such a global economy is easily threatened in that disruptions – wars, for example, or reversion to competitive mercantilist policies – within or among any significant participants in the economy send damaging shock waves throughout the entire system. As American hegemony – the political condition that holds such disruptions in check, weakens, “renationalized” foreign and economic policies among, for example, the states of northeast Asia would spell disaster for the global economy. Capitalism, certainly as it has developed over the last 50 years, cannot survive without an open world economy. It is difficult to see, therefore, how it can survive the ending of the Pax Americana, as the fragmented and discordant nature of international politics reasserts itself over an illusory unity forged by an ephemeral preponderance.

Notes

1 In 1992 then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, justifying the need to keep post-Cold War defense spending at Cold War levels, argued that America “cannot afford to step down from [its] world leadership role” because: We are a trading nation, and our prosperity is directly linked to peace and stability in the world. …Simply stated, the worldwide market that we’re part of cannot thrive where regional violence, instability, and aggression put it at peril.

2 America, the Planning Guidance’s authors assert, must do nothing less than “retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing…those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.”

3 This line of reasoning has contributed to US policymakers’ anxiety over Pyongyang’s nuclear programs. Current and former State and Defense Department officials have repeatedly declared that the ultimate implication of a nuclear-armed North Korea is Japan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Japan’s acquisition of nuclear arms, or even a less extreme form of “^nationalization,” would, policymakers fear, provoke an intense security competition among the East Asian states, fragmenting global economic interdependence.

4 Ochmanek concludes his memorandum with an argument that encapsulates the thinking upon which U.S. foreign policy is based: “If we wish to partake of the economic dynamism and prosperity that global engagement confers, there is no escaping the need to involve ourselves as well in many of the messy problems that the world offers up.”

5 In the same vein, Lugar explains that fundamental American interests are greatly endangered in Bosnia because the “devastating” economic effects in Europe of the spread of Balkan instability would mean a “loss of jobs and loss of income in this country as we try to base a recovery upon our export potential.”

6 The Clinton Administration’s “Partnership for Peace” initiative, de- signed to increase significantly the military ties between NATO and the states of Eastern Europe, stops short of providing those states with ironclad security guarantees. Its purpose, however, is to “reassure” those countries by enmeshing them in the NATO military system to such a degree that they become alliance members in fact, if not yet in word. Formal NATO membership for Poland, Hungary and the Czech and Slovak republics, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin told Germany’s defense minister last year, “is not a question of if, but of when and how.”

7 This thinking compels Lugar to argue that the United States must make itself responsible for the stability of all of Eurasia, since “there can be no lasting security at the center without security at the periphery.” 8 For the argument that the ascendancy of new great powers is inevitable, see Christopher Layne’ s seminal article, “The Unipolar Illusion: Why New Great Powers Will Rise,” International Security, Vol. 17, No. 4, Spring, 1993.

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