Condoleezza Rice, "Promoting the national interest,"
Jan/Feb 2000, Volume: 79, Issue: 1
With no Soviet threat, America has found it exceedingly difficult to define
its "national interest." Foreign policy in a Republican administration
should refocus the country on key priorities: building a military ready
to ensure American power, coping with rogue regimes, and managing Beijing
and Moscow. Above all, the next president must be comfortable with America's
special role as the world's leader.
LIFE AFTER THE COLD WAR
THE UNITED STATEs has found it exceedingly difficult to define its "national
interest" in the absence of Soviet power. That we do not know how to think
about what follows the U.S.-Soviet confrontation is clear from the continued
references to the "post-Cold War period." Yet such periods of transition
are important, because they offer strategic opportunities. During these
fluid times, one can affect the shape of the world to come.
The enormity of the moment is obvious. The Soviet Union was more than just
a traditional global competitor; it strove to lead a universal socialist
alternative to markets and democracy. The Soviet Union quarantined itself
and many often-unwitting captives and clients from the rigors of international
capitalism. In the end, it sowed the seeds of its own destruction, becoming
in isolation an economic and technological dinosaur.
But this is only part of the story. The Soviet Union's collapse coincided
with another great revolution. Dramatic changes in information technology
and the growth of "knowledge-based" industries altered the very basis of
economic dynamism, accelerating already noticeable trends in economic interaction
that often circumvented and ignored state boundaries. As competition for
capital investment has intensified, states have faced difficult choices
about their internal economic, political, and social structures. As the
prototype of this "new economy," the United States has seen its economic
influence grow@and with it, its diplomatic influence. America has emerged
as both the principal benefactor of these simultaneous revolutions and
The process of outlining a new foreign policy must begin by recognizing
that the United States is in a remarkable position. Powerful secular trends
are moving the world toward economic openness and-more unevenly-democracy
and individual liberty. Some states have one foot on the train and the
other off. Some states still hope to find a way to decouple democracy and
economic progress. Some hold on to old hatreds as diversions from the modernizing
task at hand. But the United States and its allies are on the right side
In such an environment, American policies must help further these favorable
trends by maintaining a disciplined and consistent foreign policy that
separates the important from the trivial. The Clinton administration has
assiduously avoided implementing such an agenda. Instead, every issue has
been taken on its own terms-crisis by crisis, day by day. It takes courage
to set priorities because doing so is an admission that American foreign
policy cannot be all things to all people--or rather, to all interest groups.
The Clinton administration's approach has its advantages: If priorities
and intent are not clear, they cannot be criticized. But there is a high
price to pay for this approach. In a democracy as pluralistic as ours,
the absence of an articulated "national interest" either produces a fertile
ground for those wishing to withdraw from the world or creates a vacuum
to be filled by parochial groups and transitory pressures.
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY in a Republican administration should refocus the
United States on the national interest and the pursuit of key priorities.
These tasks are
to ensure that America's military can deter war, project power, and fight
in defense of its interests if deterrence fails;
to promote economic growth and political openness by extending free trade
and a stable international monetary system to all committed to these principles,
including in the western hemisphere, which has too often been neglected
as a vital area of U.S. national interest;
to renew strong and intimate relationships with allies who share American
values and can thus share the burden of promoting peace, prosperity, and
to focus U.S. energies on comprehensive relationships with the big powers,
particularly Russia and China, that can and will mold the character of
the international political system; and
to deal decisively with the threat of rogue regimes and hostile powers,
which is increasingly taking the forms of the potential for terrorism and
the development of weapons of mass destruction(WMD).
INTERESTS AND IDEALS
POWER MATTERS, both the exercise of power by the United States and the
ability of others to exercise it. Yet many in the United States are (and
have always been) uncomfortable with the notions of power politics, great
powers, and power balances. In an extreme form, this discomfort leads to
a reflexive appeal instead to notions of international law and norms, and
the belief that the support of many statesor even better, of institutions
like the United Nations-is essential to the legitimate exercise of power.
The "national interest" is replaced with "humanitarian interests" or the
interests of "the international community." The belief that the United
States is exercising power legitimately only when it is doing so on behalf
of someone or something else was deeply rooted in Wilsonian thought, and
there are strong echoes of it in the Clinton administration. To be sure,
there is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity,
but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect. America's pursuit of the
national interest will create conditions that promote freedom, markets,
and peace. Its pursuit of national interests after World War II led to
a more prosperous and democratic world. This can happen again.
So multilateral agreements and institutions should not be ends in themselves.
U.S. interests are served by having strong alliances and can be promoted
within the U.N. and other multilateral organizations, as well as through
well-crafted international agreements. But the Clinton administration has
often been so anxious to find multilateral solutions to problems that it
has signed agreements that are not in America's interest. The Kyoto treaty
is a case in point: whatever the facts on global warming, a treaty that
does not include China and exempts "developing" countries from tough standards
while penalizing American industry cannot possibly be in America's national
Similarly, the arguments about U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty are instructive. Since 1992, the United States has refrained
unilaterally from testing nuclear weapons. It is an example to the rest
of the world yet does not tie its own hands "in perpetuity" if testing
becomes necessary again. But in pursuit of a "norm" against the acquisition
of nuclear weapons, the United States signed a treaty that was not verifiable,
did not deal with the threat of the development of nuclear weapons by rogue
states, and threatened the reliability of the nuclear stockpile. Legitimate
congressional concerns about the substance of the treaty were ignored during
negotiations. When faced with the defeat of a bad treaty, the administration
attacked the motives of its opponents incredibly branding long-standing
internationalists like Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and John Warner
(R-Va.) as isolationists.
Certainly, Republican presidents have not been immune to the practice of
pursuing symbolic agreements of questionable value. According to the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, some 52 conventions, agreements, and treaties
still await ratification; some even date back to 1949. But the Clinton
administration's attachment to largely symbolic agreements and its pursuit
of, at best, illusory "norms" of international behavior have become an
epidemic. That is not leadership. Neither is it isolationist to suggest
that the United States has a special role in the world and should not adhere
to every international convention and agreement that someone thinks to
Even those comfortable with notions of the "national interest" are still
queasy with a focus on power relationships and great-power politics. The
reality is that a few big powers can radically affect international peace,
stability, and prosperity. These states are capable of disruption on a
grand scale, and their fits of anger or acts of beneficence affect hundreds
of millions of people. By reason of size, geographic position, economic
potential, and military strength, they are capable of influencing American
welfare for good or ill. Moreover, that kind of power is usually accompanied
by a sense of entitlement to play a decisive role in international politics.
Great powers do not just mind their own business.
Some worry that this view of the world ignores the role of values, particularly
human rights and the promotion of democracy. In fact, there are those who
would draw a sharp line between power politics and a principled foreign
policy based on values. This polarized viewyou are either a realist or
devoted to norms and values-may be just fine in academic debate, but it
is a disaster for American foreign policy. American values are universal.
People want to say what they think, worship as they wish, and elect those
who govern them; the triumph of these values is most assuredly easier when
the international balance of power favors those who believe in them. But
sometimes that favorable balance of power takes time to achieve, both
and within a society. And in the meantime, it is simply not possible to
ignore and isolate other powerful states that do not share those values.
The Cold War is a good example. Few would deny that the collapse of the
Soviet Union profoundly transformed the picture of democracy and human
rights in eastern and central Europe and the former Soviet territories.
Nothing improved human rights as much as the collapse of Soviet power.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States pursued a policy that promoted
political liberty, using every instrument from the Voice of America to
direct presidential intervention on behalf of dissidents. But it lost sight
neither of the importance of the geopolitical relationship with Moscow
nor of the absolute necessity of retaining robust American military power
to deter an all-out military confrontation.
In the 1970s, the Soviet Union was at the height of its powerwhich it was
more than willing to use. Given its weak economic and technological base,
the victories of that period turned out to be Pyrrhic. President Reagan's
challenge to Soviet power was both resolute and well timed. It included
intense substantive engagements with Moscow across the entire range of
issues captured in the "four-part agenda" (arms control, human rights,
economic issues, and regional conflicts). The Bush administration then
focused greater attention on rolling back Soviet power in central and eastern
Europe. As the Soviet Union's might waned, it could no longer defend its
interests and gave up peacefily (thankfilly) to the West-a tremendous victory
for Western power and also for human liberty.
THE UNITED STATEs has many sources of power in the pursuit of its goals.
The global economy demands economic liberalization, greater openness and
transparency, and at the very least, access to information technology.
International economic policies that leverage the advantages of the American
economy and expand free trade are the decisive tools in shaping international
politics. They permit us to reach out to states as varied as South Africa
and India and to engage our neighbors in the western hemisphere in a shared
interest in economic prosperity. The growth of entrepreneurial classes
throughout the world is an asset in the promotion of human rights and individual
liberty, and it should be understood and used as such. Yet peace is the
first and most important condition for continued prosperity and freedom.
America's military power must be secure because the United States is the
only guarantor of global peace and stability. The current neglect of America's
armed forces threatens its ability to maintain peace.
The Bush administration had been able to reduce defense spending somewhat
at the end of the Cold War in 1991. But the Clinton administration witlessly
accelerated and deepened these cuts. The results were devastating: military
readiness declined, training suffered, military pay slipped iS percent
below civilian equivalents, morale plummeted, and the services cannibalized
existing equipment to keep airplanes flying, ships afloat, and tanks moving.
The increased difficulty in recruiting people to the armed forces or retaining
them is hardly surprising.
Moreover, the administration began deploying American forces abroad at
a furious pace-an average of once every nine weeks. As it cut defense spending
to its lowest point as a percentage of GDP since Pearl Harbor, the administration
deployed the armed forces more often than at any time in the last 50 years.
Some ofthe deployments themselves were questionable, such as in Haiti.
But more than anything it was simply unwise to multiply missions in the
face of a continuing budget reduction. Means and mission were not matched,
and (predictably) the already thinly stretched armed forces came close
to a breaking point. When all these trends became so obvious and embarrassing
that they could no longer be ignored, the administration finally requested
increased defense spending. But the "death spiral," as the administration's
own undersecretary of defense called it-robbing procurement and research
and development simply to operate the armed forces-was already well underway.
That the administration did nothing, choosing instead to live off the fruits
of Reagan's military buildup, constitutes an extraordinary neglect of the
fiduciary responsibilities of the commander in chief.
Now the next president will be confronted with a prolonged job of repair.
Military readiness will have to take center stage, particularly those aspects
that affect the living conditions of the troops-military pay, housing-and
also training. New weapons will have to be procured in order to give the
military the capacity to carry out today's missions. But even in its current
state, the American military still enjoys a commanding technological lead
and therefore has a battlefield advantage over any competitor. Thus the
next president should refocus the Pentagon's priorities on building the
military of the 21st century rather than continuing to build on the structure
of the Cold War. U.S. technological advantages should be leveraged to build
forces that are lighter and more lethal, more mobile and agile, and capable
of firing accurately from long distances. In order to do this, Washington
must reallocate resources, perhaps in some cases skipping a generation
of technology to make leaps rather than incremental improvements in its
The other major concern is a loss offocus on the mission ofthe armed forces.
What does it mean to deter, fight, and win wars and defend the national
interest? First, the American military must be able to meet decisively
the emergence of any hostile military power in the AsiaPacific region,
the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and Europe-areas in which not only our
interests but also those of our key allies are at stake. America's military
is the only one capable of this deterrence function, and it must not be
stretched or diverted into areas that weaken these broader responsibilities.
It is the role that the United States played when Saddam Hussein threatened
the Persian Gulf, and it is the power needed to deter trouble on the Korean
Peninsula or across the Taiwan Strait. In the latter cases,-the goal is
to make it inconceivable for North Korea or China to use force because
American military power is a compelling factor in their equations.
Some small-scale conflicts clearly have an impact on American strategic
interests. Such was the case with Kosovo, which was in the backyard of
America's most important strategic alliance: NATO. In fact, Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic's"s rejection of peaceful coexistence with the Kosovar
Albanians threatened to rock the area's fragile ethnic balance. Eastern
Europe is a patchwork of ethnic minorities. For the most part, Hungarians
and Romanians, Bulgarians and Turks, and even Ukrainians and Russians have
found a way since 1991 of preventing their differences from exploding.
Milos-evic' has been the exception, and the United States had an overriding
strategic interest in stopping him. There was, of course, a humanitarian
disaster looming as well, but in the absence of concerns based on the interests
of the alliance, the case for intervention would have been more tenuous.
The Kosovo war was conducted incompetently, in part because the administration's
political goals kept shifting and in part because it was not, at the start,
committed to the decisive use of military force. That President Clinton
was surprised at Milosevic's tenacity is, well, surprising. If there is
any lesson from history, it is that small powers with everything to lose
are often more stubborn than big powers, for whom the conflict is merely
one among many problems. The lesson, too, is that if it is worth fighting
for, you had better be prepared to win. Also, there must be a political
game plan that will permit the withdrawal of our forces-something that
is still completely absent in Kosovo.
But what if our values are attacked in areas that are not arguably of strategic
concern? Should the United States not try to save lives in the absence
of an overriding strategic rationale? The next American president should
be in a position to intervene when he believes, and can make the case,
that the United States is duty-bound to do so. "Humanitarian interventiod'
cannot be ruled out a priori. But a decision to intervene in the absence
of strategic concerns should be understood for what it is. Humanitarian
problems are rarely only humanitarian problems; the taking of life or withholding
of food is almost always a political act. If the United States is not prepared
to address the underlying political conflict and to know whose side it
is on, the military may end up separating warring parties for an indefinite
period. Sometimes one party (or both) can come to see the United States
as the enemy. Because the military cannot, by definition, do anything decisive
in these "humanitarian" crises, the chances of misreading the situation
and ending up in very different circumstances are very high. This was essentially
the problem of "mission creep" in Somalia.
The president must remember that the military is a special instrument.
It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force.
It is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to
build a civilian society. Military force is best used to support clear
political goals, whether limited, such as expelling Saddam from Kuwait,
or comprehensive, such as demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan
and Germany during World War II. It is one thing to have a limited political
goal and to fight decisively for it; it is quite another to apply military
force incrementally, hoping to find a political solution somewhere along
the way. A president entering these situations must ask whether decisive
force is possible and is likely to be effective and must know how and when
to get out. These are difficult criteria to meet, so U.S. intervention
in these "humanitarian" crises should be, at best, exceedingly rare.
This does not mean that the United States must ignore humanitarian and
civil conflicts around the world. But the military cannot be involved everywhere.
Often, these tasks might be better carried out by regional actors, as modeled
by the Australian-led intervention in East Timor. The U.S. might be able
to lend financial, logistical, and intelligence support. Sometimes tough,
competent diplomacy in the beginning can prevent the need for military
force later. Using the American armed forces as the world's "qn" will degrade
capabilities, bog soldiers down in peacekeeping roles, and fuel concern
among other great powers that the United States has decided to enforce
notions of "limited sovereignty" worldwide in the name of humanitarianism.
This overly broad definition of America's national interest is bound to
backfire as others arrogate the same authority to themselves. Or we will
find ourselves looking to the United Nations to sanction the use of American
military power in these cases, implying that we will do so even when our
vital interests are involved, which would also be a mistake.
DEALING WITH THE POWERFUL
ANOTHER CRUCIAL TASK for the United States is to focus on relations with
other powerful states. Although the United States is fortunate to count
among its friends several great powers, it is important not to take them
for granted-so that there is a firm foundation when it comes time to rely
on them. The challenges of China and North Korea require coordination and
cooperation with Japan and South Korea. The signals that we send to our
real partners are important. Never again should an American president go
to Beijing for nine days and refuse to stop in Tokyo or Seoul.
There is work to do with the Europeans, too, on defining what holds the
transatlantic alliance together in the absence of the Soviet threat. NATo
is badly in need of attention in the wake of Kosovo and with the looming
question of its further enlargement in 2002 and beyond. The door tO NATO
for the remaining states of eastern and central Europe should remain open,
as many are actively preparing to meet the criteria for membership. But
the parallel track of NATO'S own evolution, its attention to the definition
of its mission, and its ability to digest and then defend new members has
been neglected. Moreover, the United States has an interest in shaping
the European defense identity-welcoming a greater European military capability
as long as it is within the context of NATO. NATO has a very fill agenda.
Membership in NATO Will mean nothing to anyone if the organization is no
longer militarily capable and if it is unclear about its mission.
For America and our allies, the most daunting task is to find the right
balance in our policy toward Russia and China. Both are equally important
to the future of international peace, but the challenges they pose are
very different. China is a rising power; in economic terms, that should
be good news, because in order to maintain its economic dynamism, China
must be more integrated into the international economy. This will require
increased openness and transparency and the growth of private industry.
The political struggle in Beijing is over how to maintain the Communist
Party's monopoly on power. Some see economic reform, growth, and a better
life for the Chinese people as the key. Others see the inherent contradiction
in loosening economic control and maintaining the party's political dominance.
As China's economic problems multiply due to slowing growth rates, failing
banks, inert state enterprises, and rising unemployment, this struggle
It is in America's interest to strengthen the hands of those who seek economic
integration because this will probably lead to sustained and organized
pressures for political liberalization. There are no guarantees, but in
scores of cases from Chile to Spain to Taiwan, the link between democracy
and economic liberalization has proven powerful over the long run. Trade
and economic interaction are, in fact, goodnot only for America's economic
growth but for its political aims as well. Human rights concerns should
not move to the sidelines in the meantime. Rather, the American president
should press the Chinese leadership for change. But it is wise to remember
that our influence through moral arguments and commitment is still limited
in the face of Beijing's pervasive political control. The big trends toward
the spread of information, the access of young Chinese to American values
through educational exchanges and training, and the growth of an entrepreneurial
class that does not owe its livelihood to the state are, in the end, likely
to have a more Powerful effect on life in China.
Although some argue that the way to support human rights is to refuse trade
with China, this punishes precisely those who are most likely to change
the system. Put bluntly, Li Peng and the Chinese conservatives want to
continue to run the economy by state fiat. Of course, there should be tight
export controls on the transfer of militarily sensitive technology to China.
But trade in general can open up the Chinese economy and, ultimately, its
politics too. This view requires faith in the power of markets and economic
freedom to drive political change, but it is a faith confirmed by experiences
around the globe.
Even if there is an argument for economic interaction with Beijing, China
is still a potential threat to stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Its
military power is currently no match for that of the United States. But
that condition is not necessarily permanent. What we do know is that China
is a great power with unresolved vital interests, particularly concerning
Taiwan and the South China Sea. China resents the role of the United States
in the Asia-Pacific region. This means that China is not a "status quo"
power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own
favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the "strategic partner"
the Clinton administration once called it. Add to this China's record of
cooperation with Iran and Pakistan in the proliferation of ballistic-missile
technology, and the security problem is obvious. China will do what it
can to enhance its position, whether by stealing nuclear secrets or by
trying to intimidate Taiwan.
China's success in controlling the balance of power depends in large part
on America's reaction to the challenge. The United States must deepen its
cooperation with Japan and South Korea and maintain its commitment to a
robust military presence in the region. It should pay closer attention
to India's role in the regional balance. There is a strong tendency conceptually
to connect India with Pakistan and to think only of Kashmir or the nuclear
competition between the two states. But India is an element in China's
calculation, and it should be in America's, too. India is not a great power
yet, but it has the potential to emerge as one.
The United States also has a deep interest in the security of Taiwan. It
is a model of democratic and market-oriented development, and it invests
significantly in the mainland's economy. The longstanding U.S. commitment
to a "one-China" policy that leaves to a future date the resolution of
the relationship between Taipei and Beijing is wise. But that policy requires
that neither side challenge the status quo and that Beijing, as the more
powerful actor, renounce the use of force. U.S. resolve anchors this policy.
The Clinton administration tilted toward Beijing, when, for instance, it
used China's formulation of the "three no's" during the president's trip
there. Taiwan has been looking for attention and reassurance ever since.
If the United States is resolute, peace can be maintained in the Taiwan
Strait until a political settlement on democratic terms is available.
Some things take time. U.S. policy toward China requires nuance and balance.
It is important to promote China's internal transition through economic
interaction while containing Chinese power and security ambitions. Cooperation
should be pursued, but we should never be afraid to confront Beijing when
our interests collide.
RusSIA PRESENTs a different challenge. It still has many
of the attributes of a great power: a large population, vast territory,
and military potential. But its economic weakness and problems of national
identity threaten to overwhelm it. Moscow is determined to assert itself
in the world and often does so in ways that are at once haphazard and threatening
to American interests. The picture is complicated by Russia's own internal
transition-one that the United States wants to see succeed. The old Soviet
system has broken down, and some of the basic elements of democratic development
are in place. People are free to say what they think, vote for whom they
please, and (for the most part) worship freely. But the democratic fragments
are not institutionalized-with the exception of the Communist Party, political
parties are weak-and the balance of political power is so strongly in favor
of the president that he often rules simply by decree. Of course, few pay
attention to Boris Yelstin's decrees, and the Russian government has been
mired in inaction and stagnation for at least three years. Russia's economic
troubles and its high-level corruption have been widely discussed in recent
months; Russia's economy is not becoming a market but is mutating into
something else. Widespread barter, banks that are not banks, billions of
rubles stashed abroad and in mattresses at home, and bizarre privatization
schemes that have enriched the so-called reformers give Moscow's economy
a medieval tinge.
The problem for U.S. policy is that the Clinton administration's embrace
of Yeltsin and those who were thought to be reformers around him has failed.
Yeltsin is Russia's president and clearly the United States had to deal
with the head of state. But support for democracy and economic reform became
support for Yeltsin. His agenda became the American agenda. The United
States certified that reform was taking place where it was not, continuing
to disburse money from the International Monetary Fund in the absence of
any evidence of serious change. The curious privatization methods were
hailed as economic liberalization; the looting of the country's assets
by powerful people either went unnoticed or was ignored. The realities
in Russia simply did not accord with the administration's script about
Russian economic reform. The United States should not be faulted for trying
to help. But, as the Russian reformer Grigori Yavlinsky has said, the United
States should have "told the truth" about what was happening.
Now we have a dual credibility problem-with Russians and with Americans.
There are signs of life in the Russian economy. The financial crash of
August 1998 forced import substitution, and domestic production has increased
as the resilient Russian people have taken matters into their own hands.
Rising oil prices have helped as well. But these are short-term fixes.
There is no longer a consensus in America or Europe on what to do next
with Russia. Frustrated expectations and "Russia fatigue" are direct consequences
of the "happy talk" in which the Clinton administration engaged.
Russia's economic future is now in the hands of the Russians. The country
is not without assets, including its natural resources and an educated
population. It is up to Russia to make structural reforms, particularly
concerning the rule of law and the tax codes, so that investors-foreign
and domestic-will provide the capital needed for economic growth. That
opportunity will arise once there is a new government in Moscow after last
December's Duma elections and next June's presidential election. But the
cultural changes ultimately needed to sustain a functioning civil society
and a market-based economy may take a generation. Western openness to Russia's
people, particularly its youth, in exchange programs and contact with the
private sector and educational opportunities can help that process. It
is also important to engage the leadership of Russia's diverse regions,
where economic and social policies are increasingly pursued independently
In the meantime, U.S. policy must concentrate on the important security
agenda with Russia. First, it must recognize that American security is
threatened less by Russia's strength than by its weakness and incoherence.
This suggests immediate attention to the safety and security of Moscow's
nuclear forces and stockpile. The Nunn-Lugar program should be funded fully
and pursued aggressively. (Because American contractors do most of the
work, the risk of the diversion of funds is low.) Second, Washington must
begin a comprehensive discussion with Moscow on the changing nuclear threat.
Much has been made by Russian military officials about their increased
reliance on nuclear weapons in the face of their declining conventional
readiness. The Russian deterrent is more than adequate against the U.S.
nuclear arsenal, and vice versa. But that fact need no longer be enshrined
in a treaty that is almost 3o years old and is a relic of a profoundly
adversarial relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was intended to prevent the development
of national missile defenses in the Cold War security environment. Today,
the principal concerns are nuclear threats from the Iraqs and North Koreas
of the world and the possibility of unauthorized releases as nuclear weapons
Moscow, in fact, lives closer to those threats than Washington does. It
ought to be possible to engage the Russians in a discussion of the changed
threat environment, their possible responses, and the relationship of strategic
offensive-force reductions to the deployment of defenses. The United States
should make clear that it prefers to move cooperatively toward a new
mix, but that it is prepared to do so unilaterally. Moscow should understand,
too, that any possibilities for sharing technology or information in these
areas would depend heavily on its record-problematic to date-on the proliferation
of baffistic-missile and other technologies related tO WMD. It would be
foolish in the extreme to share defenses with Moscow if it either leaks
or deliberately transfers weapons technologies to the very states against
which America is defending.
Finally, the United States needs to recognize that Russia is a great power,
and that we will always have interests that conflict as well as coincide.
The war in Chechnya, located in the oil-rich Caucasus, is particularly
dangerous. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has used the war to stir nationalism
at home while fueling his own political fortunes. The Russian military
has been uncharacteristically blunt and vocal in asserting its duty to
defend the integrity of the Russian Federationan unwelcome development
in civil-military relations. The long-term effect on Russia's political
culture should not be underestimated. And the war has affected relations
between Russia and its neighbors in the Caucasus, as the Kremlin hurls
charges of harboring and abetting Chechen terrorists against states as
diverse as Saudi Arabia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The war is a reminder
of the vulnerability of the small, new states around Russia and of America's
interest in their independence. If they can become stronger, they will
be less tempting to Russia. But much depends on the ability of these states
to reform their economies and political systems-a process, to date, whose
success is mixed at best.
COPING WITH ROGUE REGIMES AS HISTORY MARCHES toward markets and democracy,
some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype.
Saddam Hussein's regime is isolated, his conventional military power has
been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has
no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to
develop wMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States
must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition,
-to remove him.
The regime of Kim Jong 11 is so opaque that it is difficult to know its
motivations, other than that they are malign. But North Korea also lives
outside of the international system. Like East Germany, North Korea is
the evil twin of a successful regime just across its border. It must fear
its eventual demise from the sheer power and pull of South Korea. Pyongyang,
too, has little to gain and everything to lose from engagement in the
economy. The development Of WMD thus provides the destructive way out for
Kim Jong II.
President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea is attempting to find a peaceful
resolution with the north through engagement. Any U.S. policy toward the
north should depend heavily on coordination with Seoul and Tokyo. In that
context, the 1994 framework agreement that attempted to bribe North Korea
into forsaking nuclear weapons cannot easily be set aside. Still, there
is a trap inherent in this approach: sooner or later Pyongyang will threaten
to test a missile one too many times, and the United States will not respond
with further benefits. Then what will Kim Jong Il do? The possibility for
miscalculation is very high.
One thing is dear: the United States must approach regimes like North Korea
resolutely and decisively. The Clinton administration has failed here,
sometimes threatening to use force and then backing down, as it often has
with Iraq. These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be
no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defense should
be a clear and classical statement of deterrence-if they do acquire WMD,
their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring
national obliteration. Second, we should accelerate efforts to defend against
these weapons. This is the most important reason to deploy national and
theater missile defenses as soon as possible, to focus attention on U.S.
homeland defenses against chemical and biological agents, and to expand
intelligence capabilities against terrorism of all kinds.
Finally, there is the Iranian regime. Iran's motivation is not to disrupt
simply the development of an international system based on markets and
democracy, but to replace it with an alternative: fundamentalist Islam.
Fortunately, the Iranians do not have the kind of reach and power that
the Soviet Union enjoyed in trying to promote its socialist alternative.
But Iran's tactics have posed real problems for U.S. security. It has tried
to destabilize moderate Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, though its relations
with the Saudis have improved recently. Iran has also supported terrorism
against America and Western interests and attempted to develop and transfer
sensitive military technologies.
Iran presents special difficulties in the Middle East, a region of core
interest to the United States and to our key ally Israel. Iranian weaponry
increasingly threatens Israel directly. As important as Israel's efforts
to reach peace with its Arab neighbors are to the future of the Middle
East, they are not the whole story of stability in the region. Israel has
a real security problem, so defense cooperation with the United
in the area of ballistic missile defense--is critical. That in turn will
help Israel protect itself both through agreements and through enhanced
Still, it is important to note that there are trends in Iran that bear
watching. Mohammad Khatami's election as president has given some hope
of a new course for a country that once hosted a great and thriving
there are questions about how much authority he exercises. Moreover, Khatami's
more moderate domestic views may not translate into more acceptable behavior
abroad. All in all, changes in U.S. policy toward Iran would require changes
in Iranian behavior.
BUILDING A CONSENSUS FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST
AMERICA IS BLESSED with an extraordinary opportunity. It has had no territorial
ambitions for nearly a century. Its national interest has been defined
instead by a desire to foster the spread offreedom, prosperity, and peace.
Both the will ofthe people and the demands of modern economies accord with
that vision of the future. But even America's advantages offer no guarantees
of success. It is up to America's presidential leadership and policy to
bridge the gap between tomorrow's possibilities and today's realities.
The president must speak to the American people about national priorities
and intentions and work with Congress to focus foreign policy around the
national interest. The problem today is not an absence of bipartisan spirit
in Congress or the American people's disinterest. It is the existence of
a vacuum. In the absence of a compelling vision, parochial interests are
filling the void.
Foreign policy in a Republican administration will most certainly be
the leading contenders in the party's presidential race have strong credentials
in that regard. But it will also proceed from the firm ground of the national
interest, not from the interests of an illusory international community.
America can exercise power without arrogance and pursue its interests without
hectoring and bluster. When it does so in concert with those who share
its core values, the world becomes more prosperous, democratic, and peaceful.
That has been America's special role in the past, and it should be again
as we enter the next century.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor
of Political Science at Stanford University. She is also foreign policy
adviser to Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.