Bush team's changing world

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If their past is prologue, then Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell and National Security Adviser-designate Condoleezza Rice have given us a good idea of the Bush administration's outlook on the world.

General Powell, his memory seared by Vietnam, is famously averse to risking American troops. He was originally opposed to using troops to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

He writes in his memoirs he nearly became ill when Madeleine Albright, then-ambassador to the UN, asked him, "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?"

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Ms. Rice, fresh from her academic and government experience, has developed an approach called "neorealism." She has written the Bush administration's foreign policy will "proceed from the firm ground of the national interest, not from the interests of an illusory international community." President-elect George W. Bush has already talked of pulling American troops out of the Balkans in a "division of labor" with the European community.

But the past is not always a reliable predictor. The CIA's National Intelligence Council released this week a broad study by its own and outside experts of the kind of world America may be facing in the next 15 years - a world that is not easily defined in terms of big-power relationships.

It is a world that globalization could divide into the haves and the have-nots. The frustrations of the have-nots could trigger the spread of organized crime and weapons of mass destruction. We could be facing an international terrorist coalition with access to chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons. We could be seeing a wave of migration by peoples driven by lack of opportunity and, for some 3 billion, even a lack of water.

If this doomsday scenario is even partly realized, then a new foreign-policy lexicon will be needed. The line drawn by the Bush team between national and humanitarian interests may have to be reconsidered. Rice may have to rethink what she said when presented by President-elect Bush last Sunday: "It is a wonderful time for the United States in foreign policy because it's a time when markets and democracy are spreading...."

The question posed by the Intelligence Council's report is: How do we deal with peoples seething with frustration because they are being left behind in this brave new world of globalization?

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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