Is Nationalism the Wave of the Future?
We might as well be honest at the outset: foreign-policy problems have a kind of intractable and uninteresting quality about them today, sharply contrasting with the nature of foreign-policy debate during the cold-war era. Gone are the days when we could endlessly contend over “the fate of the earth,” arguing passionately about abstruse questions of nuclear theology and balancing monumental questions of right and wrong, human survival and annihilation.
Today we worry about a series of difficult and ugly conflicts where—with a few notable exceptions—not very much is at stake in a global sense and not much can be done to solve the problem. Nothing is going to happen in Bosnia, Haiti, or Rwanda—as humanly painful as events may be there—to harm the vital interests of the United States (though Haitian instabilities may bring more refugees to our shores). Even crises that could genuinely upset the global order or involve us in a war—say, a potential conflagration between Russia and Ukraine in the first instance, or an escalation of the challenge from nuclear-ambitious North Korea in the second—do not yield to clear-cut answers.
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