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Winter 2002

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Paradigms and Priorities of Hegemony

Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security advisor to US President Jimmy Carter; Samuel Huntington is a Harvard professor and author of "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order"; Francis Fukuyama is author of "The End of History and the Last Man"; George Soros is chairman of the Soros Fund; Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, is now a senator from New York. Their comments are adapted from a session at the World Economic Forum in New York in early February.

Zbigniew Brzezinksi | Three main trends inform the power paradigm of the future:

• The United States is the paramount power in the world today. In the foreseeable future, the disproportion between the United States and any other state will widen.

• A reversal of the trend of concentration of power in the hands of states. Instead we see the increased capability of small groups to inflict mass violence. What we've seen in the World Trade Center attack and, earlier, the Aum Shinrikyo attack in the Tokyo subway, are just the beginning. Small groups are now able to engage a level of violence that was once the exclusive preserve of states.

• There is a growing disparity in the human condition, not only in wealth, but in the development of science and technology. This in turn leads to a vast disparity in the quality of life-millions are dying AIDS in Africa while therapeutic cloning is on the agenda in the US.

In this context, fighting terrorism must involve more that just a coalition of nation-states. It must be fought, like fascism, with an appeal to a better future. Terror must be fought not just with force, but by grappling with the social and political problems that surround it.

When the militant Black Panther movement arose in the US in the 1970s, for example, it was defeated not primarily by police action, but by civil rights legislation such as affirmative action and anti-poverty programs. This same approach must be taken with terrorist groups globally.

Sam Huntington |
Without question, religion has intensified politics. It has become more important everywhere in the world but in Europe (except among immigrant communities). But there is also something else that stands behind the clash of civilizations and the backlash against globalization: resentment by many around the world at being misruled by others instead of being misruled by themselves.

Francis Fukuyama | Religion and culture will play an increasing role in shaping in the future. Here I agree with Sam Huntington. The militant Islamists have rejected modernity in its essence-the separation of the secular and religious in political life.

Terrorism is not just the result of poverty and disparity. If that was so, all terrorism would be coming out of Sub-Saharan Africa. The terror attacks against America are largely about culture, about the backlash against modernity that takes its sharpest form in Islam.

George Soros | Since the US is the unparalleled power that far outdistances even the closest challengers, we must use that power to manage the emergent global system so it doesn't break down. The US must lead the world by creating a global open society, not withdraw from it.

Hillary Clinton | What can the West, and the US in particular, do? It is clear that there is a conflict with modernity which is long standing, but the problem now is that we are more interdependent than ever. And there is little consensus globally on the social and political goals that come in the wake of economic liberalization. In much of the world, the US is seen as selfish, aggrandizing ourselves and leaving the rest out in the cold.

I believe the US needs to take up more challenges on the global stage in eradicating disease, preventing environmental degradation and advancing women's rights. These must be the priorities of hegemony.