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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter & Tony Smith: The ... - page 8 / 25

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The Future of Liberal Internationalism

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agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the Inter- national Criminal Court (ICC), the Germ Weapons Convention, and other arms control agreements. It also unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which many experts regard as the corner- stone of modern arms control agreements. Unilateralism, of course, is not a new feature of American foreign policy. In every historical era, the United States has shown a willingness to reject treaties, violate rules, ignore allies, and use military force on its own. But many observers saw the unilateral- ism of the Bush administration as something much more sweeping—not an occasional ad hoc policy decision but a new strategic orientation or what one pundit touts as the “new unilateralism.”9

The most systematic statement of Bush strategic thinking came after the September 11 attacks with the 2002 National Security Doctrine and the Iraq war, articulating a vision of America as a unipolar state positioned above and beyond the rules and institutions to the global system, provid- ing security and enforcing order. It was a strategy of global rule in which the United States would remain a military power in a class by itself, thereby “making destabilizing arms races pointless and limiting rivalry to trade and other pursuits.”10 American preeminent power would, in effect, put an end to ve centuries of great power rivalry. In doing so, it would take the lead in identifying and attacking threats—preemptively if neces- sary. America was providing the ultimate global public good. In return, the United States would ask to be less encumbered by rules and institu- tions of the old order. It would not sign the land mine treaty because American troops were uniquely at risk in war zones around the world. It would not sign the ICC treaty because Americans would be uniquely at risk of political prosecutions. In effect, the United States was to become the unipolar provider of global security and order.

The leading edge of this new conception of America’s role and rule in the world concerned the use of force. The Bush administration’s security doctrine was new and sweeping. The United States asserted the right to use force anywhere in the world against “terrorists with global reach.” It would do so largely outside the traditional alliance system through coali- tions of the willing. The United States would take “anticipatory action” when it determined the use of force was necessary. Because such action would be taken to oppose terrorists or overthrow despotic regimes, it

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