1992 opens on a world that seems decidedly out of balance.
Some chapters have been closed and others barely opened. Many of the philosophies and circumstances that have stood as givens around the world for generations no longer exist.
Most notable is the struggle in the former Soviet Union. Faced with the disintegration of their political system, officials from the now loosely tied commonwealth of nations are searching for an acceptable balance. They weigh the interests of their individual republics against the needs of the commonwealth. They argue political issues but are ever mindful of the poor living conditions that could trigger a revolt that would make any political arguments meaningless. The world also is watching and hoping that the commonwealth will find its delicate balancing point. Until it does, the former Soviet giant will continue to juggle its weapons and military. And until the economic woes are eased, there is always the threat of further unrest between and inside the new republics.
The demise of the Soviet Union also has shifted the balance of power around the globe. Military concerns have dominated that balance for decades, but now economic issues are taking center stage. Perhaps the most vital issue to America's future is how it will deal with the economic challenges it faces within the country and in relation to such nations as Japan.
America is an ideological leader and the only remaining political and military superpower. But if it cannot compete economically with countries such as Japan and Germany, its power will be slowly eroded. It is especially fitting that President George Bush has chosen to open his new year with a trip to Asia, where he and leaders in the U.S. auto industry will meet with Japanese officials.
The world is seeking balance on many other fronts. The scales are tipping toward overpopulation and poverty in many developing nations, and the world must weigh the economic issues against the philosophical issues of population control. Economies are suffering in many areas, but industrial interests must constantly be measured against the long-term interests of the global environment. Terrorism continues to plague the globe, and even as Americans close the door on one era of hostage-taking, they are kept off-balance by the constant awareness that new violence could break out at any time.
There is no doubt we are living in interesting, challenging times. This new year as have all the new years that have come before it will bring new issues and dilemmas along with it. So far, the world has shown amazing resilience in dealing with those challenges. On balance, 1991 has even left the world a safer, less hostile place. Hopefully, that trend will continue into 1992.