WITH VIVID images of dead American soldiers in Somalia, of an
American warship turning away from Haiti when greeted by gunmen, of
red-faced members of Congress demanding explanations and action,
the United States is stumbling on its way to new post-Cold War
"We have run out of steam. We have this basic problem that we
as a country don't have a view of our role in the world," Zbigniew
Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to President Jimmy
Carter, told a small group of reporters on Friday.
He was summing up a common theme among foreign policy analysts,
who fret that the American public, President Bill Clinton and the
United Nations have yet to learn - and apply - the survival lessons
of the late 20th century.
Among those lessons:
With apologies to Vince Lombardi, winning isn't everything.
In a messy world, bad stuff happens.
And you can't always stay home alone, even when home needs a
lot of work too.
The analysts concede that those are fuzzy concepts to get
across to Americans, voters and politicians alike, who grew up on
the clear-cut democracy-vs.-communism issues of the Cold War. And
while they fault Clinton for not doing a better job of painting a
vision of new American foreign policy, they tend to portray
Clinton's struggle as a mirror of the new world order's confusion.
"Things are so difficult, so different from what we'd been
accustomed to before the end of the Cold War," said Kenneth M.
Jensen, a foreign policy scholar and director of research at the
U.S. Institute of Peace. "What we're hearing from the
administration is a continuing argument. We have to get used to
some very unpleasant things about the post-Cold War period. This is
a discussion worth having."
As the discussion continues, some analysts say the United
States will have to redefine what it considers its national
interest, how it exercises its power and leadership role in the
world, and the price it is willing to pay - in blood and money -
for the kind of world it wants.
But, in another mirror of the complications in sorting through
a new foreign policy, analysts differ among themselves on the U.S.
relationship to the United Nations and on what they see as the
proper mix of military force and diplomacy, especially in places
like Somalia and Haiti.
As the analysts paint it, American foreign policy needs to
Winning isn't everything - at least not winning the Cold War.
Instead of a calm, peaceful world without a giant villain -
communism - the West's Cold War victory has yielded a fragmented,
volatile patchwork of several smaller ones: resurgent ethnic
rivalries, political instability in emerging democracies,
starvation, tribal and political violence made easy by stockpiles
of weapons sold throughout the world by the two Cold War
"Percolating turbulence," Brzezinski calls it. "Now we have to
have a foreign policy that confronts several major issues at a
time," he said.
For Somalia and Haiti at the moment, he recommends what is in
effect a take-names-and-kick-butt policy.
When American troops were killed in Somalia and an American
helicopter pilot taken prisoner by clan leader Mohamed Farah Aidid,
Brzezinski said: "We should have deployed much more forces
immediately and hit Aidid's forces extremely hard - and then made
political decisions after that."
On Friday, President Clinton announced that he would commit
U.S. warships to what amounts to a naval blockade around Haiti to
enforce a renewed U.N. embargo aimed at getting a military leaders
to live up to their promises to accept elected President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's return to govern.
But Brzezinski worries about U.S. "credibility" and wonders if
the damage has not already been done.
The "cumulative cost" of turning away from difficult and
dangerous situations, he says, is more of the same. …