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From Superpower to Besieged Global Power

Restoring World Order after the Failure of the Bush Doctrine

Edited by Edward A. Kolodziej and Roger E. Kanet

Publication Year: 2008

The essays in this volume argue that the Bush Doctrine, as outlined in the September 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States, squandered enormous military and economic resources, diminished American power, and undermined America's moral reputation as a defender of democratic values and human rights. The Bush Doctrine misguidedly assumed that the United States was a superpower, a unique unipolar power that could compel others to accede to its preferences for world order. In reality the United States is a formidable but besieged global power, one of a handful of nations that could influence but certainly not dictate world events. The flawed doctrine has led to failed policies that extend America's reach beyond its grasp, most painfully evident in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Leading scholars and policy analysts from nine countries assess the impact of the Bush Doctrine on world order, explain how the United States reached its current low standing internationally, and propose ways that the country can repair the untold damage wrought by ill-conceived and incompetently executed security and foreign policies. Contributors focus on the principal regions of the world where they have expertise: Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Russia.

The contributors agree that future security and foreign policies must be informed by the limitations of U.S. economic, cultural, and military power to shape world order to reflect American interests and values. American power and influence will increase only when the United States binds itself to moral norms, legal strictures, and political accords in cooperation with other like-minded states and peoples.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Studies in Security and International Affairs

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Acronyms

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pp. ix-xiii

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pp. xv-xvi

This volume owes much to Nancy Cantor, currently president of Syracuse University. As chancellor of the University of Illinois, she initiated a campus- wide competition for research initiatives, aimed particularly at the humanities and social sciences. A proposal to bring together regional experts from around the world to assess the success or failure of the Bush Doctrine and American foreign and...

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pp. xvii-xxii

The title of this volume tells it all. That was not the case at the start of this collective enterprise. The editors initially sought to evaluate whether a purported American superpower, alleged to dominate a unipolar world, actually got its way with other actors, state and nonstate. What was not initially questioned was whether the United States was, indeed, a superpower. Conventional wisdom was accepted at...

Part One: American Geopolitical and Military Strategy

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1: American Power and Global Order

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pp. 3-30

Chapter 1 is divided into two parts. The first presents an ideal or pure “model” of the Bush administration’s vision of its preferred global order and of the strategies rationalizing the use of American power to achieve its objectives. The second identifies four constraints that prevent the realization of its global- order preferences. Chapter 15 completes this evaluation of the limits of American power by drawing...

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2: American Military Power and Challenges to International Security

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pp. 31-50

This chapter outlines the perspectives and policies the armed forces developed to meet the responsibilities and challenges associated with protecting national security, as well as those associated with the American management of global order and security.1 It also considers how both the armed forces and their political superiors have contributed to recent American military failures...

Part Two: Regional Limits of American Power

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3: China

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pp. 55-73

This chapter analyzes China’s response to the challenges posed by the United States in the post– cold war era. The first section discusses how Beijing has made economic development a domestic priority and analyzes its perception of U.S. intentions. These are the two major factors that have largely shaped China’s overall strategy with the United States, one that is nonconfrontational yet adamant in its defense...

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4: Northeast Asia: South and North Korea and Japan

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pp. 74-96

Japan and the two Koreas are part of a security complex whose other members are the United States, Russia, and China. In matters of security, these states grant at least as much importance to external actors other than the United States as to the United States. U.S. policies matter for their direct effects and as they affect the others in the complex and the relationships among them. The security policies of...

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5: South Asia

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pp. 97-114

No doubt an average newspaper reader in the summer of 2005 would have been left with the impression that the United States and India, whose relationship had, for decades, often been poor, finally had come to a fruitful and friendly level of cooperation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had undertaken his first state visit to Washington, which proved to be very successful. On July 18, he and President...

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6: Southeast Asia

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pp. 115-133

That no singular perspective today adequately describes how Southeast Asians view America should come as no surprise to seasoned watchers of the region. Regional perceptions of the United States appear to be marked by an underlying tension rooted in a traditional reliance on the part of most Southeast Asian governments on a sustained U.S. security presence in a region that is increasingly being...


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pp. 135

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7: Europe

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pp. 137-154

The epigraph is comedic and should be seen as just that. Yet political satire contains an element of truth, and the inclusion of France in the “axis of evil” shows a change in how the United States views some of its European allies. From the other side of the Atlantic, there is a growing concern over American foreign policy in general and particularly over the war in Iraq and its subsequent bloody peace and...

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8: The Russian Federation and the CIS

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pp. 155-175

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States changed the international security landscape and revealed that terrorism, already a large- scale and immeasurable phenomenon, had gone transnational and could cross any boundary. Washington took the lead in the global fight against terror, at first with broad international support—as evinced in the military operations conducted in Afghanistan—but under...

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9: The Balkans to Turkey and the Northern Tier

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pp. 176-195

The so-called Bush revolution in foreign policy is a quest for a global order that rests on two anomalous premises (Kanet 2005; Daalder and Lindsay 2003)— American exceptionalism and the symbiotic relationship between power and norms. Exceptionalism justifies the freedom a superpower enjoys from the multilateral constraints that bind other states through the rules and regulations of international...


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pp. 197

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10: North Africa

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pp. 199-218

Is the United States implementing a hegemonic agenda in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt)? That the United States has in the post- 9/11 era paid more strategic attention to, and been actually involved in, the region is not in doubt. Likewise, that U.S.– North African relationships are by and large driven by the latter’s domestic political concerns—perhaps reinforced but not...

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11: Middle East

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pp. 219-237

The events of September 11 turned the world’s focus, once again, to one of the most dynamic regions in the world, the Middle East. The nationality of the hijackers involved in the attacks seemed to matter little. More important than their nationalities was that they were Muslims and Arab. This is important because of the region’s long history of conflict with the West over the perceived or real intentions...

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12: Sub-Saharan Africa

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pp. 238-255

Presidential candidate George W. Bush infamously quipped that the United States had no vital interests in Africa. During its first eight months the Bush administration paid very little direct attention to the African continent. In keeping with the long- standing tradition of U.S.– African engagement, senior policy makers treated the continent as marginal at best, while mid- and lower- level bureaucrats...


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pp. 257

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13: Latin America

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pp. 259-279

A symbol of often conflicting U.S. policy, Latin America continues to provide the test case of nations thriving (or not) under a hemispheric power that also remains the undisputed global hegemon. Clearly successful, if one looks at regional shifts to democratization and trade and economic deregulation and at the emergence not only of democratic grassroots movements but also of a rising middle class capable...

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14: Brazil

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pp. 280-296

The U.S. presence as a superpower in Brazil has been a fact of life since the end of World War II. All through the second half of the twentieth century the United States was regarded by Brazilian elites as the most important power factor in world affairs. The strategic constraints imposed by a bipolar system compelled Brazil not to treat the United States as an adversary, although on many occasions...

Part Three: Limiting Reach to Grasp

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15: From Superpower to Besieged Global Power

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pp. 299-337

This chapter has three interrelated aims, each providing an ascending level of analysis and explanation of why the Bush model for reform of the international system and global politics was fl awed both in aspiration and in application and why it has failed. The first section briefly summarizes what one respected and informed observer and longtime Pentagon watcher has termed the “fiasco” of the Iraqi...

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16: American Strategy for Global Order

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pp. 338-362

As the editors initially conceptualized the project that has led to this volume, they began with the assumption, widely held in the United States and abroad, that the United States is a superpower and hegemon of the international system. That assumption, a view that remains embedded in the thinking of both the Bush administration and its harshest critics, is not tenable.1 What is implied by the terms “superpower”...


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pp. 363-398


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pp. 399-402


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pp. 403-411

E-ISBN-13: 9780820336350
E-ISBN-10: 0820336351
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820329772
Print-ISBN-10: 0820329770

Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Studies in Security and International Affairs

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Military policy.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 2001-.
  • Great powers -- Case studies.
  • Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946- -- Influence.
  • Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946- -- Political and social views.
  • United States -- Foreign public opinion.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Moral and ethical aspects.
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