The United States places at risk its opportunity to remain the world's pre-eminent nation by focusing all of its energy, time and capabilities on the war against terrorism and on its ancillary action in Iraq, despite compelling reasons otherwise. This myopia, conditioned by unambiguous security threats and the emotion of the moment, is abetted by a stubborn resistance to the maintenance of a long-term focus in foreign policy. Thus a combination of forces, imposed internally and externally, handicap American leadership and threaten the United States’ strategic interests.

The attacks of 9/11 and subsequent events in the Middle East have created a condition of immediacy in US foreign policy. The crisis de jure atmosphere dominates our attention and concentrates our intellectual resources. Short-term benefits do exist; for example, as...

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