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The World and I, June 2003 | Go to article overview

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The last two U.S. wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, have followed the same interesting pattern when reflected in the media. After a week or so, warnings of failed plans and insufficient forces filled the op-ed pages and the airwaves, jostling for space with prophecies of an impending quagmire and a rerun of Vietnam. Within a couple of weeks of these outpourings, everything was over. World media reaction to the rapid collapse of resistance by Saddam Hussein's forces is captured in World Views--The Fall of Baghdad.

A swift finish to military conflict is a blessing, but it is only afterward that the most testing challenges arise--beginning reconstruction, allowing a new government to emerge, and dealing with more complex trouble spots around the world. One of those trouble spots is North Korea, subject of the Current Issues' article, Seeds of North Korea's Contentiousness. North Korea is a different case from Iraq because it may already possess a nuclear weapon, and even if it does not, it could wreak devastation on U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.

The challenge of reconstruction points to a wider issue--the great disparities of wealth and opportunity that exist both within societies and between countries. Education: The Key to Global Development, this month's Special Report, shows that development is not just a matter of investment. It depends on the existence of skilled professional and managerial classes and on responsible political leadership. These are the product of a good education system, which accounts for the great strides in development made by East Asian societies compared with other parts of the world.

Another aspect of development and disparity is tackled in Rich Nations' Tariffs and Poor Nations' Growth, also in the Current Issues section. …

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