From the Cold War into the 21st Century:
Change and Continuity in American Hegemonic Strategy
School of International Studies
My original assignment today was to
talk to you about U.S.
foreign policy during the Cold War.
As I began to think about this topic I quickly realized that it would be
better to take a dynamic, historical approach rather than try to make static
generalizations across the whole period of the Cold War. To effectively explain U.S.
foreign policy during the Cold War requires seeing not only the continuities,
but also the changes, in U.S.
foreign policy. So although it is a
bit arbitrary I will break down U.S.
foreign policy into 4 periods: 1)
the early Cold War, 2) the later Cold War, 3) the post-Cold War, and 4) the
Continuity in American
While most of this paper will trace the
evolution of U.S.
policy, there are important continuities throughout these periods that set the
basic parameters of the U.S.
role in the world. Throughout this
entire era, the U.S.
is the hegemon of the international system. To understand any important aspect of U.S.
policy, one must see it in the context of the American attempt to preserve and
extend its hegemonic position. Hegemony
is more than simple domination. It
has several dimensions as indicated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Five
Dimensions of the Concept of Hegemony
1. Military: The hegemon has
the strongest military in the world, significantly stronger than any of its rivals.
Its military alliance system is significantly stronger than any rival
2. Economic: The hegemon has
the largest and most technologically advanced economy in the world. It is a
major trading partner of most of the nations of the world, including most of
the major powers.
3. Political: The hegemon has a
wide range of political allies and friendly relations with most nations and
4. Institutional: The hegemon,
along with its allies, usually controls most of the international
institutions and thus significantly shapes the rules that govern global
political and economic relations.
5. Ideological: The
hegemon largely determines the terms of discourse
in global relations. The predominant ideas about globalization are the ideas of
In the 19th
century Great Britain
was the hegemonic power. The British
conquered an empire on which the sun never set, and the British navy ruled the
seas. British technology led the
industrial revolution. Britain
constructed a world-wide system of alliances, skillfully checking the rise of
potential rivals in Europe, dividing and conquering India,
teaming with rising power Japan
to check other European empiresí» advances in East Asia,
etc. British institutional and
ideological power can be seen in the mimicking of its corporate and political
practices by other European empires and the influence of its statesmen,
economists, scientists, and even novelists on intellectuals around Europe
and within its empire.
However, by the end of
the 19th century the U.S.
in industrial production. In the
first world war the potential to translate U.S.
economic power into military force was demonstrated. But the U.S.
did not yet have either the will or the ability to match Britainí»s
global political network. It was
not until the aftermath of the second world war, with the British and other
European imperial powers either destroyed or exhausted and the U.S.
untouched and triumphant did the U.S.
seize political, institutional, and ideological hegemony.
The postwar world bore
the stamp of American leadership, from the UN to the NATO alliance. The U.S.
proclaimed a global ideological struggle with communism and the Soviet
Union, formalizing alliances with World War II partners Britain
defeated powers Germany,
Italy, and Japan,
and the more conservative of the new regimes rising from the decolonizing
foreign policy from the end of World War II up to the present has had one
elemental constant—the attempt to sustain American hegemony. However, different administrations in
different time periods facing different conditions have adopted different
strategies for maintaining hegemonic position.
Perhaps the most fundamental variation
in American hegemonic strategy has been a recurring oscillation between policies
of hostile confrontation against adversaries and hegemonic engagement of potential
challengers of U.S.
power. Different administrations in
different time periods have relied more or less on hard power vs. soft power to
obtain their objectives.
Hegemony requires both
hard power and soft power--political alliances, international institutions, and
ideological influence must supplement more obvious military and economic
superiority. Without the soft power, there is no hegemony
but mere domination. When the
international system is functioning smoothly, the U.S.
can rely on its political alliances, its sway in international institutions,
and the power of its mass media to spread its influence around the world. For example, in the late 1990s the U.S.
was riding high and confident that its power was unchallenged, hence there was
much talk about the decreasing importance of military power, the rising
significance of international institutions and networks, and the inexorable
process of globalization.
Reliance on soft power
can also be seen during the Nixon presidency. The U.S.
covered its retreat in the wake of the Vietnam
fiasco with the opening to China
and arms control treaties with the Soviet Union. What was called détente at the time can
now be seen as the beginning of a long period of hegemonic engagement of
communist adversaries that used U.S.
soft power to eventually transform enemies into potential partners.
But without the hard
power, there is no hegemony.
Historically, hegemons have had to enforce
their power by periodically going to war with challengers and dissidents. The hegemon
requires an ideology that can mobilize for war at any time, a
military-industrial complex that provides the means to do so, and a permanent
war mind set.
When the U.S.
feels truly threatened by ominous developments in the international system, there
is a tendency to turn to its hard power to attempt to control events. Such turns toward militarization of
conflict and reliance on hard power can be seen in both the early Cold War and
the current Terrorism War.
At these times the U.S.
tries to bind its friends into close military alliance or even joint military
action. However, allies and
neutrals often have more to lose and less to gain from direct military conflict,
thus military action designed to preserve U.S. hegemony can actually undermine the
legitimacy of American leadership of the international system, weakening the
ties of mutual interest forged with American soft power.
The oscillations in
American hegemonic strategy reflect two contradictions in U.S.
foreign policy. Hegemony itself
contains a contradiction. On the
one hand, the hegemon must forge a complex set of
institutional relations, political alliances, and ideological justifications of
its power and position. Economic
and military superiority were important in the U.S. victory in the Cold War,
but probably even more crucial was Americaí»s ability to bind most of the other
major powers—England, France, Germany, Japan, and later China—into its alliance
systems and international institutions it designed. But on the other hand, the hegemon needs a certain freedom to take decisive military action
to preserve both the system itself and its preeminent position in the
system. Such action may be
unpopular with its friends, allies, and other powers who do not have such a
deep stake in the maintaining the existing system.
contradiction is between the imperative of hegemony and the unique legacies of
American history, between the necessity of the hegemon
to act through multilateral institutions and the traditional American tendency
toward unilateralism. Historically, the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans
insulated the U.S.
from European and Asian conflicts and rivalries and allowed white America
nearly unlimited power to eradicate Native American Indian tribes, enslave
African-Americans, and dominate its smaller neighbors to the South in the Caribbean
and Central America. For most of its history, the U.S.
did not need to concern itself with politics beyond the North American
continent. There is still a
tendency within the U.S.,
seen most dramatically since 9/11, to revert during crisis to pre-hegemonic
modes of thought deeply embedded in the American experience.
II. Hegemonic Strategy in the Early
The basic parameters of the bipolar
cold war structure are well known.
Today I want to highlight a few important dimensions of the Cold War
from the U.S.
point of view:
Foreign Policy in the Early Cold War
1. Soviet Union
and its communist allies characterized as absolutely evil,
Communism seen as total
enemy of the western way of life
2. Isolation of the Soviet
Containment not only of Soviet
military power but its political and economic reach
3. System of alliances with most
of the other major world powers
4. Formation of global
institutions such as the UN
5. Global military confrontation
6. Nuclear arms race
7. Proxy wars in the í░Third
8. Military struggle as the irreducible
element of the conflict
president at the beginning of the Cold War, summed up American moral absolutism.
of life is based upon the will of the majority and is distinguished by free
institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of
individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political
oppression. . . .
second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon
the majority. It relies on terror, oppression, a controlled press and radio,
fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
While American thinking about the Cold
War evolved over time, the same moral absolutism could still be found as late
as the 1980s when movie star turned president Ronald Reaganí»s characterized of
the Soviet Union simply as the í░evil empire.í▒
The policy of
isolation of the Soviet Union and containment of
communism was laid out succinctly in the key National Security Directive 68, a
blueprint for fighting the cold war produced in the late 1940s:
by all means short of war to (1) block further expansion of Soviet power, (2)
expose the falsities of Soviet pretensions, (3) induce a retraction of the
Kremlin's control and influence, and (4) in general, so foster the seeds of
destruction within the Soviet system that the Kremlin is brought at least to
the point of modifying its behavior to conform to generally accepted
National Security Directive 68 identified military power as the
essential component of containment.
It was and continues to be cardinal in
this policy that we possess superior overall power in ourselves or in
dependable combination with other likeminded nations. One of the most important
ingredients of power is military strength. In the concept of
"containment," the maintenance of a strong military posture is deemed
to be essential for two reasons: (1) as an ultimate guarantee of our national
security and (2) as an indispensable backdrop to the conduct of the policy of
"containment." Without superior aggregate military strengthíŽa policy
of "containment"íŽis no more than a policy of bluff.
In order to effectively
encircle Soviet power in a world devastated by total war, the U.S.
needed to construct allied regimes out of the postwar chaos. The occupation forces in Japan
and West Germany
carefully crafted pro-U.S. regimes.
At the same time, the Soviets used the Red Army to create pro-Russian
regimes in eastern Europe. In France,
Italy, and Greece
strong indigenous communist parties had been hardened by underground resistance
to the Nazis and ready to exploit postwar chaos and deprivation, but eventually
pro-U.S. forces won out. Most of
western Europe, including major powers Great
Italy, and West
Germany fell into the western camp, and the
NATO alliance was formed. When the Soviet
Union responded with the Warsaw Pact with the communist regimes in
the east, the division of Europe was codified.
A similar struggle
raged in Asia.
occupation was successful in installing a pro-American regime in Japan,
although it took into the 1960s to fully overcome strong Communist and pacifist
Socialists who challenged the U.S.-Japan security alliance. However, the Soviet Union
gained its only major ally China
with the triumph of Mao Zedongí»s forces over pro-U.S.
Chiang Kai-shek. Korea
was divided between U.S.
and Russian zones of occupation.
The first major
conflict of the Cold War came as the pro-Soviet North invaded the pro-U.S.
South. The U.S.
led the forces of the newly created United Nation that aided the South against
the North. When the UN forces swept
through North Korea
to within sight of the Chinese border, the new communist regime in China
sent its forces into Korea,
although the Russians never sent troops of their own. The war ended with a stalemate between
the Chinese and the UN, leaving Korea
a divided nation.
The use of the UN in Korea
points to another aspect of U.S.
postwar strategy—the construction of new international institutions. American perception was that the old League
of Nations had failed, in part because the U.S.
had refused to join. The new United
Nations had a charter that allowed it to take decisive action in collective
defense and a Security Council dominated by the 5 major victorious allied war
powers. The permanent U.S.
seat on the Security Council and particularly the right of the 5 permanent
members to veto any action against their interests went a long way to
satisfying the critics of the old League of Nations that
the new international body could work against the interests of the U.S.
Other notable global institutions
set up in the postwar period include the International Monetary Fund, The
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later to become the WTO), and the Breton-Woods
currency regime. In the early Cold
War, the U.S.
and its allies tended to control these international institutions. As western control of the UN in
particular began to wane, the U.S.
relied less on the institutions that did not reflect its will. For example, the U.S.
fought under the UN flag in Korea,
but it fought the Vietnam War with no international legitimation
and little allied support.
By the end of Korean
War the basic structure of the Cold War world had been set. The two superpowers and their allied
camps faced off in a tense military confrontation that was suspended just short
of shooting war. Europe
was divided by an í░iron curtain,í▒ Northeast Asia by a
í░bamboo curtain.í▒ On both sides of
the divide, massive militaries armed with nuclear weapons faced each other
down. By the mid-1950s both the U.S.
and the Soviet Union had acquired enough nuclear weapons
to annihilate each other and most of the rest of the world, yet the nuclear
arms race continued unabated through the 1960s, as both sides accumulated
absurd levels of í░overkill.í▒
because of the suicidal costs of all out war, the U.S.
and the Soviet Union were deterred from attacking each
other. Instead, the í░hotí▒ conlficts spawned by the Cold War, most notably the Korean
and Vietnam Wars, were proxy conflicts, fought in the so-called í░Third World,í▒
in the domain left open by the decolonization of the European and Japanese
empires, defeated or exhausted by the second world war.
justifying escalation of U.S.
involvement in the Vietnam War in 1964, captured the ideology of a global
fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country
can shape its own destiny, and only in such a world will our own freedom be
finally secure. . . . Around the globe, from Berlin to Thailand, are people whose well being rests in part on the
belief that they can count on us if they are attackedíŽ
one think that retreat from Viet Nam would bring an end to conflict. The battle would be
renewed in one country and then anotheríŽTo withdraw from one battlefield means
only to prepare for the next.
III. The Later Cold War
As the Cold War entered its second
decade, its irrational nature became ever more apparent. As both the U.S.
and the Soviet Union sought security through military
power and nuclear arsenals both became ever more hostage to the specter of
nuclear annihilation. As proxy wars
proliferated around the planet, the cost in human life and treasure mounted, and
the probability of a disastrous defeat or escalation to all out war both
The Cuban missile
crisis drove this point home to both Americans and Russians. The Cuban missile crisis was the most
dangerous moment of the Cold War because instead of waging conflict through
proxies, the U.S.
and the Soviets faced off against each other directly and came within hours of
a war with each other that could have quickly escalated to a nuclear
exchange. After the crisis
subsided, the commitment of both Americans and Russians to never ending
military confrontation was shaken by the stark realization that the culmination
of this struggle could be mutual extinction. Speaking a few months after the Cuban
missile crisis President Kennedy called for a new attitude based on new
Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace
or world law or world disarmamentíŽuntil the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened
attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe
we must re-examine our own attitude—as individuals and as a nation—for our
attitude is as essential as theirs.
Both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a
mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race.
. . For in the final analysis, our most common link is that we all inhabit the
same planetíŽAnd we all are mortal.
But as Kennedy was
talking peace, he was deepening the U.S.
commitment in the Vietnam
conflict. A year later, Kennedy had
been assassinated and his successor, President Johnson sought and received a
resolution from Congress empowering him to Americanize the war in Vietnam.
However, the Vietnam
War proved a decisive turning point in U.S. Cold War policy. In order to preserve U.S.
hegemony after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam,
President Nixon launched diplomatic offensives that transformed U.S.
relations with the Soviet Union, China,
and U.S. Cold War allies. Nixon,
like Kennedy before him, foresaw a new relationship between the U.S.
and the communist world.
Peace must be far more than the absence of war.
Peace must provide a durable structure of international relationships which
inhibits or removes the causes of war.
Our commitment to peace [must] be convincingly
demonstrated in our willingness to negotiate our points of difference in a fair
and businesslike manner with the Communist countries. We are under no
illusions. . . . But any nation today must define its interests with special
concern for the interests of others. If some nations define their security in a
manner that means insecurity for other nations, then peace is threatened and
the security of all diminished. This obligation is particularly great for the
nuclear superpowers on whose decisions the survival of mankind may well depend.
3: Changes in U.S.
Foreign Policy in the Later Cold War
Détente (Engagement) and arms
control with the Soviet Union
Opening to China
Greater reliance on allies (Greater
The Nixon doctrine
reversed several early Cold War strategies. Engagement with the Soviet
Union required moderation of the ideological conflict, an end to
the demonization of the communism as an absolute
evil. Although the basic principle
of containment was unaltered, now rather than isolating the Soviet Union, the
attempt was to draw it into a series of agreements and give it a stake in the
existing international system, with the hope that engagement would inexorably
transform Soviet behavior and eventually the Soviet system itself. While the global military competition
continued, the probability of direct war between the Soviets and the West was
reduced by the establishment of the Conference for Security Cooperation in Europe,
an institution for all of Europe to regularly meet to defuse
military and political tensions.
The nuclear arms race was also moderated by the SALT agreements based on
the principle of mutual assured destruction. Now that both sides could deliver a
death blow to the other even if the victim of a surprise attack, both sides
were effectively deterred from deliberately starting a general war. In this situation not only was the arms
race increasingly illogical, arms control was possible and even desirable as a
way of reducing the possibility of accidental war. Negotiation of differences first
supplemented and eventually superceded military confrontation as the central
characteristic of the U.S.-Soviet relationship.
Another dimension of
the changing view of communism was the opening to China
under Nixon, leading first to tacit strategic cooperation with China
against the Soviet Union and eventually policies
designed to encourage China
to enter the world system. The
Sino-Soviet split and tensions between the two communist giants were
exploited. But this required some
ideological justification for cooperation with a major communist state. Hard-headed realists could rationalize
cooperation with China
on the plane of pure power—on the simple grounds that the enemy of my enemy is
my friend. But the moralistic
American ideological system required more high-minded legitimation. The rise of Deng Xiaoping as
Chinese leader gave the U.S.
a way of distinguishing between í░reformingí▒ communism vs. Stalinism.
The Nixon Doctrine
also recognized changes within the Western alliance. Western Europe
and Japan had
recovered from their wartime devastation and had reemerged as centers of the
global economic system. Even as it
retreated from Vietnam,
the U.S. held
one decisive advantage in the Cold War—it had most of the other major powers in
the world on its side. The Vietnam
War shook some friendly nationí»s confidence in American judgment, but it did
not cause lasting damage to the key American alliances. As the Sino-Soviet split widened, even China,
the Soviet Unioní»s only major ally, defected and entered
tacit strategic cooperation with the U.S.
Unlike in the case of Korea,
its major allies had counseled the U.S.
not to intervene in Vietnam,
and when that advice went unheeded, the NATO allies and Japan
sat out the conflict. After the Vietnam
defeat Nixon recognized the need to repair these crucial alliances and enlist
the political and material support key allies could give in future conflicts.
Peace requires partnership. Its obligations, like
its benefits, must be shared. . . . To insist that other nations play a role is
not a retreat from responsibility, it is a sharing of responsibility.
Not all political forces in the U.S.
were committed to the late Cold War strategy of hegemonic engagement. As governor of California Ronald Reagan
had opposed every arms control treaty negotiated with the Soviet
Union, and had consistently taken Taiwaní»s
position on relations with China. When Reagan became president in 1981, he
took a much more hostile stance toward the Soviet Union
which many dubbed the í░new Cold War.í▒
The Reagan administration embarked on a
massive military build-up, dramatically increasing the Pentagon budget,
particularly for advanced nuclear weapons systems. A new generation of missiles was
deployed in Europe, over the objections of many allies
and a growing popular nuclear disarmament campaign. The Star Wars missile defense system was
conceived and begun under the Reagan administration. Arms control negotiations came to a
standstill. Counterinsurgency campaigns
against leftist forces around the world were intensified, particularly the
attempt to overthrow the Marxist regime that had come to power in Nicaragua.
However, the í░new Cold Warí▒ was not
very popular either in Europe or in the U.S. A massive nuclear freeze campaign
advocating no more new nuclear weapons drew millions of supporters to
demonstrations, petition signings, local referenda, etc. Although Reagan easily won reelection in
1984, the new Cold War was clearly his greatest political liability.
The first Reagan term was a period of
instability in the Soviet leadership.
The death of Breshnev, who had held the reins
of power for a generation, set off a long power struggle in which two old guard
successors came to power only to die almost immediately after taking
office. Finally, a new generation
leader, Gorbachev, came to power promising, new thinking, economic reform, and
The rise of Gorbachev gave Reagan a
chance to reverse his unpopular hard-line toward the Soviets. Proclaiming Gorbachev to be a different
kind of Soviet leader, Reagan began a period of summitry, arms control, and
warming of relations that surpassed any previous U.S.-Soviet cooperation. Reaganí»s solid credentials with the
American right wing allowed him to improve relations without facing the severe
criticism from the right that his predecessors, particularly Democrat Jimmy
Carter, had endured.
IV. Hegemonic Habits in the
Post-Cold War World
The Cold War ended suddenly and
surprisingly with the collapse of the Soviet empire, first in the Eastern
European satellites and then only a couple of years later with the breakup of
the Soviet Union.
The end of the Soviet system was seen in the U.S.
as the triumph of American foreign policy.
American conservatives believed the U.S. won the Cold War largely because
of its military superiority. Liberals
believed the U.S. won largely because of its economic superiority. Almost all Americans believed the superiority
of the U.S.
political system and the attractiveness of the American way of life also played
a major role.
In any case, with the Soviet
Union out of the way the American political class saw U.S.
hegemony as unchallenged. The U.S.
was the only superpower left. The
collapse of the Soviet empire brought the rise of a new í░waveí▒ of democratic
states and market openings, not only in the former Russian satellites, but also
in East Asia, Latin America, and
even Africa. In one of the widely quoted expressions of
American triumphalism, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed
the í░end of history,í▒ meaning that with the defeat of fascism and then
communism in the 20th century, there was no longer any political or
philosophical system that could seriously oppose liberal democratic capitalism. Others like Samuel Huntington, with his
í░clash of civilizationsí▒ hypothesis, predicted that the moment of unchallenged
American supremacy would be brief, as a variety of forces around the world
remained unsubdued by American hegemony. However, even Huntington
modified his early clash of civilizations hypothesis with his later concept of
í░uni-multi-polarism,í▒ which asserted that while many civilizations,
peoples, and states remained resistant to American hegemony, they would have
great difficulty coalescing into an alliance system that could match the U.S.
and its western allies.
In the 1990s several
of the changes in U.S.
hegemonic strategy that had been apparent in the later Cold War continued and
even accelerated. Enemies and
potential enemies were engaged rather than isolated, from old Cold War
adversaries such as China
and North Korea
to new Islamic states like Iran. Great faith was put in the
attractiveness of the global economic system and the institutions of
western-style democracy to induce recalcitrant states to gradually modify their
behavior. Many argued that
economics, politics, and culture would be more important than military power in
the post-Cold War world. Potential
enemies tended to be seen as not absolutely evil, but rather misguided and
foolish, the victims of arrested development.
inexorable and in the U.S.
globalization was taken to mean Americanization. Any resistance would eventually be
overcome by the enticements of capitalist wealth and democratic peace. When necessary, the U.S.
could bring to bear its economic and soft power to speed the process. At times the U.S.
would need to open protectionist doors or aid in democratic enlargement. Multilateral institutions, like the IMF,
the WTO, APEC, etc. would also contribute to the global spread of capitalism
Foreign Policy in the Immediate Post-Cold War Era
Similarities to Late Cold War
Similarities to Early Cold War
Engagement of China,
other potential enemies
Increasing conflict with new
in Islamic world
Maintenance of nuclear overkill
Growing commitment to
international institutions +
War with Iraq
Many low intensity conflicts
in Muslim world
Greater reliance on economic +
Maintenance of global military
However, some policies developed during
the early Cold War persisted despite the dramatic change in global conditions. The Soviet challenge had been the
justification for the global deployment of U.S.
military forces and the NATO alliance.
Despite the collapse of the Soviet system, U.S.
forces remained in Europe, East Asia
and the Middle East. The military-industrial complex that had
been justified by the Cold War also remained largely unchanged.
Nor did direct and
military intervention around the world cease. The Soviet system had barely given up
the ghost when the first war with Iraq
erupted. The U.S.
remained entangled in a wide variety of í░low-intensityí▒ conflicts around the
globe, particularly in the Islamic world.
Nor did nuclear issues
disappear along with the Soviet Union. Nuclear and other weapons of mass
destruction remained a preoccupation of American foreign policy. The U.S.
continued the arms control regime begun during the late Cold War, but they both
retained massive overkill capabilities.
At the same time, the U.S.
tried to deny access to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction to states
not assimilated by U.S.
hegemony, that the U.S.
often called í░rogueí▒ nations.
Even before the demise
of the Soviet Union old cold warriors were scanning the
globe looking for new enemies to confront.
threatí▒ school warned that in the 21st century China
could emerge as a new hegemonic challenger. Since the Iranian revolution, militant
Islam had become another potential enemy to justify a global American military
presence, another í░evilí▒ force to be combated.
V. The Terrorism War: Comparison to
the Early Cold War
The most recent dramatic shift in U.S.
foreign policy came after 9/11/2001. It is difficult for foreigners to
understand the shock effect of September 11 on the American people.
Unlike most nations of the world, the U. S.
had been shielded from attack by its geographic isolation for more than a
century. From the Civil War until the middle of the 20th
borders were literally inviolable. Americans were stunned when Pearl
Harbor was bombed in World War II, but even that was in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean far from the continental mainland. Part of the virulence of
the early Cold War was due to the American recognition that its homeland was
vulnerable to Soviet missiles and bomber attack. But the Cold War never
became a direct conflict between the U.S.
and the Soviet Union, so again, Americans were spared
the reality of war on their home territory. For a century and a half, for
Americans war was something that happened overseas, far away from the home
administration almost immediately responded to the new reality of U.S.
vulnerability by declaring a world-wide war on terror, aimed largely against
Islamic militants who challenge American hegemony. But the Terrorism War did not begin on
9/11. It did not begin when the U.S.
went to war for the first time in the Persian Gulf in
1991. It did not begin in 1979-1980
with the Iranian Islamic revolution and western support for Saddam Husseiní»s Iraq
in its attack on the Iranian revolution.
It did not begin with U.S.
support for the state of Israel
in the permanent war between Israel
and its Arab neighbors that has raged since the late 1940s. It did not even begin with British,
French, and Dutch invasion and colonization of most of the Muslim peoples of
the world in the age of imperialism.
The terrorism war of the 21st century goes back at least as
far as nearly a millennium ago to the Christian Crusades against Muslim peoples
living in the holy lands of the Middle East.
between the U.S.
and the Muslim world can bee seen in the writing in the late 19th
century of Teddy Roosevelt, soon to become the first American president to
articulate a global role for the U.S. Roosevelt
characterizes the í░barbarian nationsí▒ in a way similar to George W. Bushí»s 21st
century characterization of an í░axis of evil.í▒
The growth of
peacefulness between nations...has been confined strictly to those that are
civilized... Whether the barbarian be the Red IndianíŽthe AfghaníŽor the TurkomaníŽ(i)n the long run
civilized man finds he can keep the peace only by subduing his barbarian
neighbor; for the barbarian will yield only to force.
It is only the
warlike power of a civilized people that can give peace to the world. The Arab
wrecked the civilization of the Mediterranean coasts (and) the Turk wrecked the
civilization of southeastern Europe, setting back the progress of the world for
centuries, solely because the civilized nations opposed to them had lost the
great fighting qualities.
It is striking that
more than a hundred years ago, Afghans and Arabs were identified as enemies of
í░civilization.í▒ Add the Turks, also
an Islamic people, and you can see that Samuel Huntington did not invent the
í░clash of civilizationsí▒ at the end of the 20th century.
The Terrorism War has
another í░back to the futureí▒ dimension.
foreign policy has regressed in many ways back to its early Cold War
character. Again the U.S.
sees an enemy that is absolutely evil.
It took George W. Bush roughly 5 months to transform the attack on the
Pentagon and the World Trade
Center into a holy crusade against
the í░axis of evil.í▒
North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass
destruction, while starving its citizens.
Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports
terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for
freedom. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has
plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a
decadeíŽStates like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of
evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of
mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.
The new crusade is a new global
military campaign, requiring a permanent military-industrial complex and a
world-wide network of bases and permanent deployments of U.S.
troops. Soon after 9/11 Bush noted
that the terrorists í░want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim
countries.í▒ According to Bushí»s axis of evil speech,
enemies í░view the entire world as a battlefield, and (therefore) we must pursue
them wherever they are.í▒ In other words, the U.S.
also views the entire world as its battlefield, taking to itself the right to
overthrow governments in the Muslim world.
5: Comparison of the Early Cold War and the Early Terrorism War
The Early Cold War
The Early Terrorism War
The Soviet Union
is absolutely evil
Communism is total enemy of the West
Islamic militants are absolutely
Rogue states form í░axis of evilí▒
Contain the Soviet
Preempt terrorist and rogue
Global alliance system
Formation of international
Coalitions of the willing
Multilateralism in Afghanistan
Unilateralism in Iraq
Global military confrontation
Global military action
Nuclear arms race
Deny terrorists and rogue states
weapons of mass destruction
Proxy wars in the Third
in wars in Islamic world
Military conflict is the
Military conflict is the
In some ways the new crusade requires
even greater U.S.
military intervention at a deeper level in more local and regional conflicts
around the planet than the previous crusade against communism. The power of the Soviet Union
limited the U.S.
to a strategy of containment and proxy wars. But there is no Islamic superpower to
deter the U.S.
from all-out war wherever in the Islamic world it chooses. Thus, in the new crusade the doctrine of
containment has been replaced by the doctrine of í░preemption.í▒
goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past.
The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of todayí»s threats,
and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversariesí»
choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.
The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a
sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater
is the risk of inactioníŽTo forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our
adversaries, the United
States will, if
necessary, act preemptively.
The continuities of the terrorism war
with early Cold War ideology can be seen in a speech about terrorism by Ronald
Reagan during the brief revival of the Cold War hard-line in the early 1980s.
Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba,
Nicaragua—continents away, tens of thousands of miles apart—but (they have) the
same goals and objectivesíŽMost of the terrorists who are kidnapping and
murdering American citizens and attacking American installations are being
trained, financed, and directly or indirectly controlled by a core group of
radical and totalitarian governments—a new, international version of
"Murder, Incorporated." And all of these states are united by one,
simple, criminal phenomenon—their fanatical hatred of the United States, our people, our way of
life, our international stature.
Note that Iran
and North Korea
already headed the list of terrorist states two decades ago. Iraq,
the third member of Bushí»s axis of evil was exempted by Reagan because at that
moment its war of aggression against Iran
was being supported by the U.S. When Iraq
invaded an enemy of the U.S.
it was taken off the list of terrorist nations. Of course, when it invaded an ally of
the U.S., it
then found itself at the top of the list.
The way the Bush
administration has conducted the terrorism war puts into question for the first
time since the beginning of the Cold War an American administrationí»s
commitment to a hegemonic strategy.
The go it alone unilateralism of the Bush administration is not
consistent with the requirements of a hegemon to gain
consent of its allies and other partners in the global system, to base its
strategy on close political cooperation with its allies, reliance on
international institutions, and a shared ideology about international community
rather than simple military and economic dominance. The doctrine of preemption undermines a
half a century of international law and custom built up by U.S. presidents from
Truman to Clinton, including Bushí» father.
administration came to power with a deep skepticism about the web of
international agreements that emerged in the later Cold War and the post-Cold
War. Before 9/11 the Bush
administration had already withdrawn from the ABM (anti-ballistic missile)
Treaty which was the key to all the subsequent arms control treaties with Russia. Before 9/11 the Republican party and
President Bush had opposed the Kyoto
treaty on global warming. And most
significantly, given recent headlines, the Bush administration tried to keep a
permanent International War Crimes Court from coming into being and continues
to try to keep the U.S. exempt from its jurisdiction, even bullying and
threatening its own allies who disagree.
Immediately after 9/11,
the U.S. had
broad international sympathy and was able to gain UN and allied support in
striking at terrorist training camps in Afghanistan
and even at the Taliban regime that sheltered them. Yet in its zeal to spread the Terrorism War
to other fronts the Bush administration soon squandered this broad
international goodwill. When the
Bush administration was unable to gain broad international support or a UN
resolution endorsing its plan to attack Iraq,
they just invaded without even a fig leaf of international legitimacy.
administration seems to be waking up to the perils of unilateralism. It has reversed itself and now seeks the
help of the UN, NATO, and friendly Muslim nations to help extricate itself from
the debacle in Iraq. The U.S.
demanded the six party talks on North Koreaí»s
nuclear weapons partly to put international pressure on North
Korea and partly to dodge direct
negotiations with Pyongyang, but
now that it has begun, the U.S.
will find it difficult to abandon a process it has started.
unilateralism of the Bush administration in Iraq
will just be an interlude, a phase that does not last long, like Reaganí»s new
cold war in the early 1980s.
Probably the U.S.
will revert to its historic hegemonic strategy of relying more on its soft
power--on its political influence over allies and international institutions
and the power of its leaders and its media to shape how people around the world
think about events.
VI. Lessons from the Conclusion of the
Global Cold War for Ending the Residual Cold War on the Korean Peninsula
Other scholars and policymakers in this
program will have much more to say about bringing peace to the Korean
Peninsula. But I will try here to briefly draw some
lessons from the conclusion of the global Cold War for the situation here in Korea. Correct interpretation of the end of the
global cold war is crucial for understanding how to terminate the residual cold
war on the Korean peninsula.
Drawing the wrong í░lessonsí▒ of history will prolong rather than speed
reconciliation of the two Koreas.
interpretation of Cold War history is that the Soviets were brought down by the
military superiority of the West and the steadfast will of the United
States in grimly confronting the communist
menace. The brief interlude of the
revived Cold War in the first Reagan term unfortunately makes this misreading
of history more plausible than it should be.
However, the more
plausible interpretation of the conclusion of the Cold War is that it was the
engagement of the Soviet Union and China,
what at the time was called détente, which made reform of the communist systems
possible. It was gradually reducing
the military pressure, conducting protracted negotiations over specific military
and political details, and patiently crafting arms control regimes and
political structures to mitigate sources of tension which gave the Soviet
Union in particular a way out of never-ending conflict, a way
where everyone could be winners in peace rather than losers in war.
of the adversary, belief that negotiations with the demon adversary are
fruitless, and permanent military confrontation were the not way out of the
global Cold War, and they are not the way to bring a peace regime to the Korea