When Americans express their doubtsrnand reservations about engaging militaryrnforces in a highly questionable venture,rnthey are routinely reproached at homernand abroad for jeopardizing their country’srncredibility as a world leader andrnshirking global responsibilities. However,rnif we do not need the allies as much asrnthey manifestly need us, why shouldrnAmericans hobble their economic nationalrninterests for the sake of allies’rnstrategic interests?rnWithout allies, Americans also wouldrnenjoy far more flexibility when usingrndiplomatic tools. For example, Washington’srnperiodic attempts to use toughmindedrntrade leverage on European orrnAsian competitors in defense of America’srnnational interests are routinely constrainedrnby advice not to do anythingrnthat could exacerbate tensions in our alliances,rnmuch less jeopardize their existence.rnThis has been repeatedly demonstratedrnin America’s relationship withrnJapan, where virtually all attempts byrnAmerican officials and policy advocatesrnto push for a tougher trade posture characterizedrnby economic nationalism arerndenounced for jeopardizing security relationsrnbetween the two countries. Evenrnthough the primacy of America’s economicrnrelations with Asia is widely recognizedrntoday, and extolled by many,rnAmerican policy options vis-a-vis Japanrnremain constrained by Cold War-vintagernattitudes about not offending an ally’srnsensibilities. Why not enjoy the competitiverneconomic advantages likely tornaccrue for the United States as presentdayrnallies are compelled to cope with thernadded costs of national defense createdrnby American withdrawal of the strategicrnsubsidy to which they have grown accustomed?rnDispensing with formal allies wouldrnnot mean the United States would bernembracing isolationism, as is routinelyrnalleged. The United States could be asrnunilaterally engaged in world affairs as itrnchooses to be. This includes a full rangernof international economic engagementrn(trade, aid, and investment), participationrnin global and regional internationalrnorganizations, unilateral military actionsrnabroad that serve America’s interests,rnhumanitarian activities, and the freedomrnto participate in any temporary strategicrncoalitions that, again, serve American interests.rnThe United States would not,rnhowever, be wedded to any other countries’rnnational interests.rnNone of this would constitute “isolationism.”rnClearly there are direct dangersrnto the United States posed by terrorism,rnnuclear proliferation, internationalrncrime, the drug trade, and other issues.rnIt is also possible that some day a new externalrnthreat comparable to the formerrnSoviet Union might materialize in Asia,rnEurope, or the Middle East. Americansrnrequire a strong unilateral defense capability,rnmust possess solid intelligence capabilities,rnand need to prepare for suchrncontingencies. The point is that thernUnited States today does not need ourrnexisting allies to meet these challenges.rnAmericans can cooperate with a diversernspectrum of countries on such issuesrnwithout incurring the obligations ofrnformal alliances. If at any point in the futurernit becomes desirable to ally formallyrnwith one or more countries against a majorrnnew threat, that option would remainrnopen. In the meantime, however, it is farrnwiser to declare autonomy and seekrnstrength through sovereignty withoutrnthe encumbrance of entangling alliances.rnIt is clear that existing allies in Europernand Asia cannot be unceremoniouslyrndumped. It would be prudent to phasernin the new policy on an incremental basisrnso that existing allies are not left in thernlurch. Both sides in existing alliancesrnwould require a period of transitional adjustment.rnMoreover, it is entirely possible,rnperhaps likely in a few instances, thatrnthe United States would want to replacernexisting alliances with coalitions—aimedrnat specific situations—in which therncoalition partners would pursue explicitrninterests that overlap for a finite period.rnSuch coalitions would not be alliances asrnwe now know them and would representrna far more equitable approach to thernpost-Cold War world.rnEdward A. Olsen is a professor of AsianrnStudies in the Department of NationalrnSecurity Affairs at the Naval PostgraduaternSchool in Monterey, California. Thernviews expressed are his alone.rnIs War Unavoidable?rnby Ernest van den HaagrnCurrently wars are being fought inrnthe Balkans, in Russia, in SoutheastrnAsia, and in various parts of Africa, butrnthey involve relatively few people. Despiternthese wars, we live in reasonablyrnpeaceful times, and no threat of a majorrnwar appears on the horizon. Yet, althoughrnwe don’t know when war willrnbreak out next or where, we do know thatrnwar is unavoidable. Not because humanrnnature requires it. Nature makes it possible,rnbut it is the organization of thernworld that makes war unavoidable, andrnthat in turn is not avoidable.rnThe worid has always been and still isrndivided into countries of various sizernand power. Each has an independentrn(sovereign) government. Hugo Grotiusrndefined sovereignty in the 16th centuryrnas potesta legihus absoluta—power independentrnof law. Sovereignty of coursernexisted before the word did. Governmentsrnare powerholders and lawgivers.rnThey cannot be bound by any law exceptrnwhat they choose themselves to creaternand (spottily) observe. If they disregardrntheir own laws they cannot be compelledrnto obey them. Nor can governments berneffectively bound by laws other thanrntheir own or even by treaties and rulesrnthey may choose to subscribe to at anyrnmoment.rnThe many independent governmentsrnthat run the world have divergent interests,rnreal or imagined, material or moral.rnThey independently pursue these interestsrnthat may be in conflict with therninterests of other governments. Usuallyrnsuch conflicts can be settled by negotiations;rnbut not always. Whenever a governmentrnfeels unable to pursue or protectrnthrough negotiations what itrnperceives as its vital interests, when it calculatesrnthat it can win a test of force, itrnwill risk and bear the costs of war tornachieve its goals. Governments do notrngo to war lightly; yet there is nothiirg tornprevent them except their own calculationsrnof costs, benefits, and risks. If thernoutcome is a foregone conclusion, warsrnwon’t occur: nobody fights if defeat isrncertain. But if each prospective belligerentrnbelieves that victory is in its grasp andrnthat the benefits are worth the costs andrnrisks, war is likely. Fortunately, most ofrnthe time conditions conducive to warrncan be avoided, mostly by making warrnunrewarding. Still, in the long run, conflictsrnand, ultimately, war are as certainrnas death is for individuals.rnThe ineluctability of war need not discouragernus from trying to postpone it asrnwe try to postpone death. Physicians andrnhospitals do their best to increase thernlifespan of individuals. Reasonable personsrnare not angry at them for merelyrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn