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Arms sales, health, and security

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:459

A call for US leadership

  1. Lawrence Korb, director of national security studies (
  1. Council on Foreign Relations, New York, NY 10021, USA

    Since the end of the cold war, it has become clear that the main threat to global peace and security is instability in the international system. As the world's only superpower, the United States must take the lead in preserving stability. But the United States exerts its leadership not only with its hard power—its economic and military might—but also with its soft power—the values it preaches and practices.

    The sources of instability in the contemporary international system range from terrorists and tyrants who seek to obtain weapons of mass destruction to failing states that can become a haven for these terrorists and tyrants. For example, when the world abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviet Union withdrew, chaos ensued as the warlords struggled for control. The Taliban eventually stepped in, imposed a fundamentalist totalitarian regime, and provided a haven for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda group. Afghanistan became a training ground for the terrorists who attacked …

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