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The Obligation of Empire

The Obligation of Empire: United States' Grand Strategy for a New Century

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Obligation of Empire
    Book Description:

    Some of the nation's most respected scholars of international affairs examine the debates over U.S. grand strategy in light of U.S. security policies and interests in tactical regions around the world. The contributors begin by describing the four grand strategies currently competing for dominance of U.S. foreign policy: neo-isolationism argues that the United States should not become involved in conflicts outside specifically defined national interests selective engagement proposes that the United States, despite its position as the world's only remaining superpower, should limit its involvement in foreign affairs cooperative security advocates that the United States is not and should not act as an imperial country primacy asserts that the United States is an empire and therefore it should conduct an expansive foreign policy. Focusing on regions that present new challenges to U.S. grand strategy, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, the contributors offer the most current examinations of U.S. policies and assess the effectiveness of competing strategies in each region.The Obligation of Empireoffers an innovative set of foreign policy initiatives that explore the tensions between global agendas and regionalist approaches.

    Contributors: Andrew J. Bacevich, Doug Bandow, Dale Davis, Thomas Donnelly, James J. Hentz, Clifford Kiracofe, Charles Kupchan, Jeffrey Stark, S. Frederick Starr, and Brantley Womack. James J. Hentz, associate professor of international studies at the Virginia Military Institute, is the coeditor of New and Critical Security and Regionalism: Beyond the Nation State.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5663-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Charles F. Brower IV

    This is a book about competing visions of the United States’ grand strategy for a new era and the challenges of effectively implementing such strategies regionally. Its chapters are the result of a remarkable series of sessions held over two days in April 2002 at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia. Conceived by VMI’s then-superintendent Josiah Bunting, the conference assembled a notable collection of serious and thoughtful contributors who had already made substantive contributions to the ongoing spirited debate over the international way ahead for the United States. Specifically, the conferees were charged to apply their disparate perspectives...

  4. Introduction: The Obligation of Empire United States Grand Strategy for a New Century
    (pp. 1-12)
    James J. Hentz

    The end of the cold war left the United States without a map, or a set of maps, to navigate the security challenges of the “new world order.” Specifically, there was no agreement on what, if any, grand strategy should replace that of “containment,” which seemingly served the United States’ interests so well for almost half a century. There was some agreement that at the turn of the century that the United States was once again in a unique position to shape the new world order. However, as the following chapters will reveal, there is no such agreement on whether...

  5. Part One Grand Strategies for the Post–9/11 World

    • CHAPTER 1 American Strategy after September 11 On Intervention and Republican Principles
      (pp. 15-32)
      Doug Bandow

      For all of the antagonism with which political battles in Washington are often fought, and all of the fury generated in the fighting, the actual differences between leading Democratic and Republican politicians and policy makers is actually quite small. While neither party has presented what deserves to be called a “grand strategy,” both parties largely favor promiscuous foreign intervention. As a result, the United States continues to defend traditional allies, no matter how populous and prosperous, while almost daily adding new Third World client states. Even before 9/11, the United States found itself entangled in a host of international conflicts...

    • CHAPTER 2 Selective Engagement
      (pp. 33-52)
      Clifford A. Kiracofe Jr.

      The late twentieth century “bipolar world” ended with the collapse of the Soviet empire during 1990–91. In the United States, the ensuing policy debate focused on the nature of the emerging international system as “multipolar” or as “unipolar.” Within this context, there were sharp differences about the implications of the systemic change for United States foreign policy and grand strategy. “Selective engagement,” as a prudent and moderate orientation grounded in realism, emerged as a policy option. Because there is no single representative proponent of selective engagement, this chapter examines the work of four leading proponents of selective engagement. The...

    • CHAPTER 3 The End of American Primacy and the Return of a Multipolar World
      (pp. 53-72)
      Charles A. Kupchan

      The first post–cold war decade was a relatively easy one for U.S. strategists. The United States’ preponderant economic and military might produced a unipolar international structure, which in turn provided a ready foundation for global stability. Hierarchy and order devolved naturally from power asymmetries, making less urgent the mapping of a new international landscape and the formulation of a new grand strategy. The elder Bush and Clinton administrations do deserve considerable credit for presiding over the end of the cold war and responding sensibly to isolated crises around the globe. But the United States’ uncontested hegemony spared them the...

    • CHAPTER 4 What Is Within Our Powers? Preserving American Primacy in the Twenty-First Century
      (pp. 73-90)
      Thomas Donnelly

      Though he had been secretary of state less than a year, when Dean Acheson addressed the National War College just before Christmas 1949 he spoke as America’s authoritative strategist. Bretton Woods, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO, the primary structures of the cold war in which Acheson had a guiding hand, were virtually all in place and would prove useful instruments to deal with an increasingly dangerous world. In August, the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear device, exacerbating exponentially the American sense of vulnerability. On October 1, Mao Tse-tung had proclaimed the People’s Republic of China, which...

  6. Part Two Regional Policies for the Post–9/11 World

    • CHAPTER 5 A Tale of Two Countries The United States and South Africa in Southern Africa
      (pp. 93-110)
      James J. Hentz

      The foundational principles of United States foreign policy for Sub-Sahara Africa and, in particular southern Africa, are wrong. We consequently misunderstand how conflicts can be prevented and peace promoted among the states and peoples of Africa. There are two problems. First, the debate over U.S. foreign policy for Africa, so far as there is one, is framed by a state-centric approach. Second, much mention is made of “new security threats,” which includes most importantly economic underdevelopment, but also immigration, drug running and crime, HIV/AIDS, and collapsed states; but what the new security threats might mean for U.S. foreign policy is...

    • CHAPTER 6 Philosophical Choices and U.S. Policy toward Central Asia Today
      (pp. 111-124)
      S. Frederick Starr

      America’s response to 9/11 has called forth a fundamental and wide-ranging examination of the role the United States should play in the world. More accurately, it has revived a debate that is as old as the nation itself, and which had been thoroughly elaborated by politicians, strategists, social scientists, and moralists throughout the twentieth century. As the war in Afghanistan deepened, and as the United States established a presence in the former Soviet states of Central Asia, the old controversy has again flared to life.

      Papers included in this volume set forth alternative visions on this important issue. In chapter...

    • CHAPTER 7 Contours of a U.S. Strategy toward Latin America and the Caribbean
      (pp. 125-150)
      Jeffrey Stark

      It is perhaps inevitable that the current discussion over whether or how the United States should exercise its hegemonic powers evokes an ironic, wry, or rueful reaction from students of Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Western Hemisphere, the century just concluded still resonates with the memory of a steady march of diverse U.S. interventions, most frequently in the Wider Caribbean, numbering by 1962 nearly 100 incidences of direct U.S. intervention, including military actions in the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, and Haiti in 1994, as well as the controversial U.S. involvement in the...

    • CHAPTER 8 Crashing into Reality A Call for American Leadership in the Middle East
      (pp. 151-174)
      Dale R. Davis

      The academic question of “American obligation” has taken on practical importance since September 11, 2001. The events of that day marked a sea change regarding the foreign policy prerogatives and options of the United States, especially regarding the Middle East.¹ While the academic debate over foreign policy strategies raged long before 9/11, the practical policy options in the Middle East were limited by a lack of domestic and international political will to confront, in any serious manner, a variety of issues including weak, or collapsed states, pan-Islamist terror groups, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, radical anti-Western regimes (Iran, Syria, and until...

    • CHAPTER 9 Southeast Asia and American Strategic Options
      (pp. 175-196)
      Brantly Womack

      In the first six months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks there were two U.S. activities in Southeast Asia that were reminiscent of an earlier era. Since October, American soldiers, including Special Forces, were engaged in the southern Philippines, ostensibly as advisers to the Philippines armed forces fighting the insurgent group Abu Sayyaf. The original short-term invitation from the government of the Philippines was extended indefinitely on December 31.² Not only was this the first presence of U.S. troops in the Philippines since the closing of U.S. bases in 1992, but, along with $4.6 billion in promised military and economic assistance,...

  7. Conclusion Reinhold Niebuhr and the Hazards of Empire
    (pp. 197-208)
    Andrew J. Bacevich

    Fifty years ago, one of the United States’ most influential public intellectuals—a moral theologian, a realist, a man of impeccable liberal and democratic convictions, a resolute anticommunist—published a slim book that raised profound questions about U.S. power and the United States’ purpose in the world. The author was Reinhold Niebuhr. The title of his book wasThe Irony of American History. The purpose of this essay is to offer a reflection on Niebuhr’s little book in light of events in our own day.

    AlthoughThe Irony of American Historyhas long since gone out of print, its claim...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 209-212)
  9. Index
    (pp. 213-228)