Fixing the World
Fareed Zakaria is right in saying that Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to use American power to reshape the world ("Wanted: A New Grand Strategy," Dec. 8). Obama's challenge will be trying to live up to America's moral promise while fulfilling the practical needs of the world order. Americans have amassed a staggering federal debt coupled with a severe economic situation. Obama's dual responsibility, as the first African-American president, will also be to see that the black community is part of the process of his "change" mantra. Let's not forget that Obama inherits the quagmire into which George W. Bush has dragged the world. He must also repair a ruined image worldwide. What a hard task for a visionary leader like Obama to put America back on the right track. To restore America to greatness is what we yearn for.
I appreciated Fareed Zakaria's insightful, urgent-but-generous tone. He is right about the need to have an overarching plan for the tumultuous period we are in now and for the foreseeable future. However, I would like to emphasize that the strategy of building working multilateral institutions and consensus on addressing major problems needs to be taken from the viewpoint of solving or mitigating wrenching problems for the benefit of all the world's citizens. The political, economic, religious and power-based conflicts besetting the world already stretch humanity's ability to craft effective mutually beneficial solutions. However, I'm afraid there is worse yet to come. What Zakaria failed to mention is that the world is rapidly moving toward a period of basic resource scarcity—petroleum, water, arable land and food, compounded by climate shifts, that will test the ability of nation-states to maintain peaceful stability. Without common global goals and workable multilateral institutions, desperation will likely lead to levels of conflict that will make the world wars look like regional disputes. President-elect Obama has both the opportunity and the obligation to use his international popularity to help reshape the world into one that replaces national "me first" strategies with one that globalizes well-being and sustainability. If we fail to do this, the suffering will be immense.
Associate Professor Department of Emergency Health Services
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Fareed Zakaria's essay was a breath of sanity at a time when U.S. policy has gone politically and bureaucratically mad. Although NEWSWEEK might suffer greatly in the process, I would strongly suggest that the new administration's transition team pirate away Zakaria and install him as a special senior adviser to President-elect Obama. The results could be staggering.
David Leslie Bagnard
Garden Valley, Idaho
Germany's Robust Economy
I admire German Chancellor Angela Merkel's stance regarding her country's participation in the much-advertised economic rescue package ("Germany's Frau Nein," Dec. 15). From Germany's point of view (which is food for thought for other European leaders) it is quite right to refuse participating in the proposed tsunami of multibillion rescue packages of which Germany would have had to finance a portion. Germany has already implemented adequate measures responding to its own situation, and the final trump card of tax cuts (to stimulate consumer demand) will be played strategically depending on the prevailing circumstances and the 2009 national election. For once, Washington, France and Britain all got it wrong, and Angela Merkel will rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. Well done, Frau Nein, because sometimes it's easier to take that stance than saying yes to ill-conceived, knee-jerk reactions. The jury may still be out on which of the strategies is right, but Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, have a good chance of having done the right thing for their country. Finally, it is interesting to see how many European leaders regret the hasty enlargement of the European Union. This has always incurred the risk of an implosion of an overly diversified and overstretched alliance.
Karl H. Pagac
Europe's Old Demons
Hungary (or Hungarian voters) didn't send members to "set up a far-right grouping alongside anti-Jewish rightist from France and Italy" ("Europe's Jewish Problem," Dec. 15). Hungarian Members of the European Parliament belong to the European People's Party, Party of European Socialists and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. None of the mentioned groups is far-right or anti-Jewish. We have enough problems even without Denis MacShane's misrepresentation.
More on the Mumbai Attacks
After all the Indian propaganda about Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence's hand in the planning of the recent Mumbai attacks, wouldn't it be appropriate for the Indian government to hand over India's security to the ISI ("The Fire Needs to Be Put Out," Dec. 8)? If the ISI is as efficient as the Indians think, it would do a much better job than their own people. But seriously, since India doesn't seem to have enough money to improve its intelligence and security, why doesn't it curtail superfluous expenses like sending probes to the moon or maintaining several consulates in Afghanistan? Surely, the money saved could be used to make the country much safer.