America Adrift? Myths and Realities About the United States in the New World

Joseph M. Grieco
Content Type
Working Paper
Centre for International Peace and Security Studies
The war in Iraq continues; its wisdom and consequences for the United States and the Middle East cannot yet be fully assessed. Still, it may be said that the lead-up to the war largely put to rest the view that an American president can readily respond to external threats with unilateral military force, and need not take into account the views of allies and the United Nations. Presidents, even those with unilateralist inclinations, such as that at present, are constrained to remain committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the UN Security Council because large majorities of the American public want their government to have allies and UN authorization when the United States goes to war. Americans are likely to want allies and international authorization because their possession increases the chances of pre-war coercive diplomatic success and, if war is necessary, success during and after it at lower cost. They may also want allies and international authorization for another reason, namely, to obtain a "second opinion" on the wisdom and the intentions of their leaders in taking them down a path that may end in war.
Foreign Policy, NATO, United Nations
Political Geography
United States, Iraq, America, Middle East