A Period of TransitionThis administration must lead the nation through a fundamental transition in foreign policy.
As I explained in last year's report, we are at the end of an era. The postwar order of international relations-the configuration of power that emerged from the Second World War-is gone. With it are gone the conditions which have determined the assumptions and practice of United States foreign policy since 1945.
No single sudden upheaval marked the end of the postwar era in the way that the world wars of this century shattered the prewar orders of international relations. But the cumulative change since 1945 is profound nonetheless:
Western Europe and Japan, nations physically or psychologically debilitated by the war, have regained their economic vitality, social cohesion, and political self-assurance. Their new vigor transforms our relationship into a more balanced and dynamic coalition of independent states.
New nations have found identity and self-confidence and are acting autonomously on the world stage. They are able to shoulder more responsibility for their own security and well-being.
In the last twenty years the nature of the Communist challenge has been transformed. The Stalinist bloc has fragmented into competing centers of doctrine and power. One of the deepest conflicts in the world today is between Communist China and the Soviet Union. The most prevalent Communist threats now are not massive military invasions, but a more subtle mix of military, psychological and political pressures. These developments complicate the patterns of diplomacy, presenting both new problems and new Prospects.
At the same time the Soviet Union has expanded its military power on a global scale and has moved from an inferior status in strategic weapons to one comparable to the United States. This shift in the military equation has changed both defense doctrines and the context of diplomacy.
Around the globe, East and West, the rigid bipolar world of the
1940s and 1950s has given way to the fluidity of a new era of multilateral diplomacy. Fifty-one nations joined the United Nations at its founding in 1945; today 127 are members. It is an increasingly heterogeneous and complex world, and the dangers of local conflict are magnified. But so, too, are the opportunities for creative diplomacy.
Increasingly we see new issues that transcend geographic and ideological borders and confront the world community of nations. Many flow from the nature of modern technology. They reflect a shrinking globe and expanding interdependence. They include the challenges of exploring new frontiers of space and sea and the dangers of polluting the planet. These global issues call for a new dimension of international cooperation.