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16   2 US Predominance and the Logic of Interventionism Think hard about it. I’m running out of demons. I’m running out of villains. —Colin Powell One of the main functions of this book is to refute the notion that US and Western intervention in the Yugoslavia conflict was not based on any concrete interests or considerations of realpolitik. On the contrary, external intervention in Yugoslavia was based on traditional considerations of national interest, as seen in both economic and geo-strategic terms. The specific aspects of Western intervention in Yugoslavia will be explored in detail in later chapters. In this chapter, I assess the larger international context in which the conflict played out. The basic argument here is that the United States has grown accustomed to its position as the world’s dominant power and has sought to preserve this status, which provides major political, economic, and prestige benefits. During the Cold War, the threat of communism served to legitimate US hegemony over other capitalist democracies; with the end of the Cold War, the United States sought to use humanitarian intervention as the principal rationale for its hegemony. True, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have provided a newer and even more potent rationale. During the 1990s, however, it was humanitarian intervention that formed the main justification for US hegemony. A major assumption underpinning my argument is that the post–Cold War era has triggered increased tensions among the advanced capitalist democracies , which in turn required these “humanitarian”military assertions to affirm the United States’ dominant position. This may sound an odd argument , given the wide assumption that America’s allies have always welcomed US hegemony. Geir Lundestad referred to US hegemony over Europe during the Cold War as a case of “empire by invitation,” the result of cooperative , mutually beneficial activity between the Americans and Europeans.1 Irving Kristol popularized this view in a 1997 Wall Street Journal article: “One of these days, the American people are going to awaken to the fact that we US Predominance and the Logic of Interventionism   17 have become an imperial nation. . . . It happened because the world wanted it to happen.”2 Such views are untenable. First, they ignore the ambivalence with which allies of the United States have always viewed their subordinate position. And they also ignore that US hegemony has been maintained at least in part through forceful behavior, which has undercut efforts by America’s allies to establish an independent foreign policy. These challenges to US hegemony from among the ranks of its allies had always been present to some extent even during the Cold War; with the end of the Cold War, these challenges increased considerably.There was also a rise in US efforts to resist these challenges. US foreign policy thus entailed a measure of double containment—to simultaneously contain the communist nations and America’s capitalist allies in Europe. With the demise of communism, after 1989, the containment of allies remained a major US objective, although it became more difficult to achieve. Overwhelmingly, the United States sought to reassert its power through a revitalization of the Cold War institutional structures; above all, this meant a renewed US interest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization , widely regarded as the most successful alliance structure in history. Humanitarian interventions—particularly in the Balkans—emerged as NATO’s principal mission. A Predatory Hegemon? The theme I am developing—that rivalry among the advanced industrial states became a central issue of the early post–Cold War period—may seem anomalous, given the long period of amity that had prevailed among capitalist states. During the Cold War, the communist enemy served to unite the capitalist powers for a fixed period. It is important to note however, that the period 1945–1989 was in some sense a historical aberration. When surveying the course of international relations over a somewhat longer period—let us say the past two hundred years—one could easily conclude that conflict and adversarial relationships rather than cooperation have been the norm among capitalist states; these latent conflicts were masked and held in check for an extended period during the Cold War. As David Calleo notes, the “Cold War seems a vacation from normal history—from the economic and political problems of the modern capitalist world.”3 As a result of this vacation, the major capitalist powers were able to set aside their long-standing mutual suspicions and join together for common political and military purposes.The agent...


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