Osama bin Laden's attacks on Americans also predated George Bush. The war on terror started only when we finally decided to strike back in 2001. And it will end only when we destroy the jihadists and alter the conditions that created them -- or give in and return to the earlier policy of inaction.
Long-term global challenges are bipartisan concerns -- neither caused by conservative Republicans nor solved by easy answers from liberal Democrats.
Should we guarantee the new independence of Muslim-dominated Kosovo, if Christian Serbia and its Russian patrons seek to get it back by force? If so, consider the chance of another bloody war inside Europe, and no appreciation for our help in Kosovo from the Muslim world.
Should we press China to clean up its trade practices and grant basic human rights to its own citizens? If so, be ready to see hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese-held U.S. government bonds sold off.
Should we extend formal diplomatic recognition to Iran and begin talks? If so, be prepared that, with even less worry, Tehran will accelerate efforts to get the bomb.
It is a cop-out to say George Bush caused all these problems. They loom large mostly for two reasons. One, the United States promotes global democratic capitalism, and our military ensures international free commerce in the air and on the seas. This bothers regional dictators and terrorists eager to carve out their own spheres of influence, regardless of who's sitting in the Oval Office.
Two, billions of people in India, Russia, China, Asia and Latin America, having copied American business and culture, are now doing better, and demand the same good lives we take for granted.
Our rivals suspect that we are played out, short of energy, long on debt, and hogging the world's resources. They see no reason to stop pushing just because of our past strength and reputation. They think the future is theirs, the past ours. And so all over the globe they will surely challenge the next president, however nice, to prove them wrong.
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