Strategic Survey 1991-1992.

 
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Strategic Survey 1991-1992 Brasseys for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 23 Tavistock Street, London WC2E7NQ Price 17.99 [pounds] paperback. 248 pages ISBN 0-08-041784-1

THE LATEST edition of the annual Strategic Survey produced by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London tackles a year in which the geopolitical face of the world change more radically than at any other time since the Second World War. The Soviet empire suddenly imploded; Europe had to be redefined; even the Arabs and the Israelis started talking to one another. In place of the ossified certainties of the past, politicians are being called upon to redraw the political map on fairer, more secure and more mutually beneficial lines.

The IISS has acquitted itself admirably in taking stock of the situation. Perhaps the single most important theme of the Strategic Survey 1991-1992 is the danger of letting the opportunity of creating a new world order slip by. "One set of problems has been solved [with the demise of the Soviet Union]," it comments. "The solution, however, has exposed a wholly new set."

The "new world order" was a phrase coined by President George Bush in the euphoric aftermath of the war over Kuwait. The United States had taken the lead in orchestrating a collective international response to Iraq's seizure of Kuwait. In the wake of Kuwait's liberation, the global community felt no compunction about acting to protect Iraq's embattled Kurds or oversee the destruction of Saddam Hussein's grim arsenal of non-conventional weapons.

The demise of Communism has left the United States unchallengeable as the world's remaining superpower and thus bestowed upon it the responsibility for initiating a new world order. Unfortunately, if the IISS is to be believed, George Bush has none of the new vision required and the future threaten to be a disorderly one. The fluidity and uncertainty of the present may be as paralysing to bold initiatives as the rigidities of the recent past.

The authors of the Strategic Survey are in no doubt that the United States is not up to the task ahead. The effort invested in the Kuwait exercise seems in retrospect to have been an aberration. No sooner had the drawn of the new world order been announced by President Bush than it "sank unmourned beneath a wave of concern about domestic economic and political problems."

The outlook of the American electorate is "increasingly parochial" and voters are largely unbothered about...

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