The Bush administration justified its invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime was well advanced toward obtaining nuclear weapons. (Israel is the only state in the Middle East generally acknowledged to possess nuclear weapons.) That claim, we now know, was untrue. Nearly three years later, it turns out that the Middle East nation that was—and is—well advanced toward obtaining nuclear weapons is not Iraq, but Iran. And here the Bush administration’s policy has been almost the opposite of its policy toward Iraq. From time to time, it leaks hints that it is contemplating military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program, but since Iran is three times the size of Iraq and since its program is widely dispersed, almost everybody—including the Iranian regime—knows that the administration’s policy is a bluff. The administration is relying upon the once-derided “old Europe” to arrange a face-saving compromise with Iran, but even this option seems to be heading toward failure. And so, Iran’s nuclear weapons potential continues to grow steadily toward a capability that will eventually exceed anything ever conceived of by Saddam Hussein.
North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, and U.S. Intelligence
In the meantime, the third member of the “axis of evil,” North Korea, has already achieved a nuclear capability that includes several nuclear weapons. Unlike the imaginary threat from Iraq and the potential threat from Iran, the North Korean threat to the United States and to U.S. allies Japan and South Korea is real, here and now. The Bush administration’s policy toward this serious threat has been even more feckless than that toward Iraq and even more a bluff than that toward Iran. Once again, the administration is relying upon other nations, in this case North Korea’s neighbors, to arrange a face-saving compromise with its adversary. But even this option seems to be heading toward something like the once-derided Agreed Framework that the Clinton administration produced in 1994.
The North Korean nuclear weapons program presents a clear and present danger to the United States. This issue of Orbis begins with an analysis of that program by Ralph Hassig and Kongdan Oh, two leading experts on North Korea, who discuss its historical development, political imperatives, and intractable realities and evaluate U.S. policy options. The authors reject as impractical and ineffective both the option of U.S. military action and the option of South Korean appeasement of the North Korean regime (the “sunshine policy”). Rather, they argue for a vigorous sunshine policy aimed at the North Korean people as a whole (e.g., massive infusions of information and communication).
The non-existent nuclear weapons in Iraq, the developing nuclear program in Iran, and the already-existing nuclear weapons in North Korea demonstrate the absolute importance of getting U.S. intelligence right, in both the analytical and the operational arenas. Garrett Jones, a career officer in the CIA, gives a comprehensive and penetrating account of the distortions and weaknesses embedded in the contemporary organizational culture of the Agency. He also offers sensible and practical proposals for reform.
Mexico, Immigration, and U.S. Security
In its own, very important way, immigration into the United States presents another serious threat to the United States and its national security. In particular, the U.S. southern border with Mexico has become the major open door for both criminal organizations and Islamist terrorists to enter the United States. Jan Ting, a leading authority on immigration law and practice, discusses this threat. But there is also another southern border, Mexico’s southern border with Central America, through which many immigrants come on their way north to the United States. George Grayson gives an on-the-scene depiction of this “third” U.S. border, along with a detailed analysis of the policies, practices, and failures of Mexico’s Vicente Fox administration.
In the longer term, Mexican immigration poses a challenge—and some say a threat—to our national identity. Samuel Huntington, America’s most distinguished political scientist, has addressed this very question in his most recent book, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity (2004). In our review essay, Stephen Schuker, an eminent historian, presents a comprehensive and thoughtful commentary, both on Huntington’s book and on the consequences of Mexican immigration.
Transformed Sovereignty and Humanitarian Intervention
Students of foreign policy, particularly those in the “realist” school, spend a good deal of time observing international policies, but almost no time in observing international law, which they largely leave to those in the “idealist” school. However, since the end of the Cold War, there have been major, even revolutionary, developments in international law with respect to that most fundamental reality of international politics: the national state and its sovereignty. These legal developments have had concrete manifestations in humanitarian interventions undertaken by international organizations against rogue nation-states; in the burgeoning and dense network of transnational and nongovernmental organizations, aspiring to “global governance”; and even in the Bush doctrine (perhaps already overtaken by its failures in Iraq) of preemptive action (actually preventive war) against states that harbor terrorists. Amitai Etzioni, the distinguished sociologist and communitarian, gives us a concise and useful overview and account of these developments and their future potential. In my own article, I discuss the bleak prospects for humanitarian intervention in the future, particularly where it will be most needed, in Africa. Indeed, the chances that the United States—the central military power for most of the humanitarian interventions to date that have been effective—will undertake such interventions in the next decade or so are virtually nil, given the dismal consequences of the Iraq War.
All is not bleak, however, in Africa, particularly with respect to Uganda. Edward Lynch discusses some of the successes of Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, and some of the paradoxes of U.S. policy toward that country.
The EU, the European Origins of Democracy, and U.S. Policy
In recent years, some Americans—particularly neoconser-vatives, as well as the Bush administration during the period 2002–04—have been annoyed and dismissive with respect to Europe and the eu and have acted almost as if they wish these would go away. Indeed, with respect to the latter, many Europeans have acted the same way. In counterpoint, however, Leslie Lebl, an experienced analyst of European affairs, argues that the eu is here to stay and that the United States both can and should advance its own national interests by working more closely and more intelligently with that institution.
William Anthony Hay discusses a different, historical way in which Europe remains relevant. He emphasizes the distinctive European characteristics of the liberal institutions and political culture that nurtured the growth of stable democracy. He concludes that there is little basis for expecting any U.S. democratization project to succeed in countries that do not partake of some part of this European institutional and cultural legacy.
Russia, the Putin Government, and U.S. Policy
As always, Russia remains something of an enigma and, for many Americans, the government of Vladimir Putin is even more so. Two of our articles, however, shine a clarifying light upon these topics, by telling us how Russians themselves think of their country, their government, and their relations with the United States. Andrei Tsygankov gives a comprehensive account of the competing foreign policy groups and tendencies within the Russian elite, along with an analysis of the challenges and choices facing Putin. Laurence Jarvik, who taught at a Moscow university in 2005, gives an empathetic and sensitive portrayal of the distinctive values and views of many Russians, particularly Russian students. For them, the current era is both another Russian time of troubles and a period when once again there is the prospect of rebirth. He concludes that it would be best for America and for American national interests to let Russia remain Russia.