Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America

Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America

Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America

Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America

Excerpt

America's foreign policy exhibits a number of troubling defects. Despite spending as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, Americans do not feel especially secure. And the United States has not enjoyed an era of peace despite the demise of the Soviet empire and the USSR itself. Except for trimming the number of troops stationed in Europe, there was no significant effort to reduce the extent of America's security entanglements in the world following the collapse of the Soviet threat. Indeed, the end of the Cold War ushered in an era of more, rather than less, military activism by Washington. Even before the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the United States had used military force on numerous occasions in an astonishing array of circumstances during the initial 12 years of the post–Cold War period.

Merely listing those incidents suggests the promiscuous nature of Washington's security strategy. Just weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. troops invaded Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega, a tin-pot dictator and onetime CIA asset. The following year, the administration of George H. W. Bush sent more than 500,000 American military personnel to the Persian Gulf and waged a war to reverse Iraq's conquest of Kuwait. During the final months of the elder Bush's administration, the president dispatched U.S. Marines to provide humanitarian aid to beleaguered civilians in Somalia who were caught up in that country's civil war. That humanitarian mission morphed into a more ambitious U.S./UN nationbuilding mission under Bush's successor, Bill Clinton. In1994, Washington sent troops into Haiti to restore the erratic President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power and try to stabilize that country. The following year, President Clinton abandoned his initial reluctance to get involved in the civil strife accompanying the breakup of Yugoslavia and ordered U.S. planes to bomb secessionist Serb forces in Bosnia. In 1998 Clinton not only launched cruise missile strikes against suspected al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, but he authorized a dramatic new round of military force in the form of bombing raids against Iraq (Operation Desert Fox). He topped off his record of military muscle-flexing by approving a U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999 to force that country to relinquish control over its rebellious province of Kosovo.

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