THE DYNAMICS OF WORLD DISORDER: Don't go it alone

By: 
Ibrahim A. Warde
Date Published: 
September, 2002
Publication: 
Le Monde diplomatique
Language: 
Over a decade ago, when the academic consensus was that the United States had entered an era of irreversible decline, Joseph Nye predicted that, despite its economic difficulties, the US was "bound to lead". For unlike its would-be rivals, it possessed the tools of soft power: ideology, culture, technology (1). He was proved right. Today Nye is still a contrarian. At a time when the foreign policy establishment wallows in triumphant unilateralism, he is warning against the temptation of going it alone (2). The new defence doctrine is based on the principle of "unilaterally determined pre-emptive self-defence". Hawks within the Bush administration have a martial view of world politics according to which military resources are the sole measure of power. Countries unable to contribute in a significant way to any war effort - as is the case of Europe and the Arab world in relation to "regime change" in Iraq - need not be consulted. And on matters such as the Tokyo protocol, the International Criminal Court or the Geneva Convention, the US flouts international law on the grounds that might is right. Nye, a renowned international relations specialist, held senior foreign policy and defence positions. His position is grounded in pragmatism and the defence of American national interests. Both require that the US take into account the interests and sensitivities of the "international community". The threat or the use of force cannot resolve economic growth, poverty, the environment, financial flows or migration. References (1) Joseph S Nye, Jr, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, Basic Books, New York 1990. (2) The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone, Oxford University Press, 2002. Tous Droits Réservés © Le Monde diplomatique.