The Proof of Primacy
Paper, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: External Program
What used to be called the “post–Cold War world” has gone through three distinct periods. First, the “Long 1990s”—beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and ending with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—marked a time of drift and, at least in international politics, American confusion and indecision. The second, from 9/11 until the March 19, 2003, invasion of Iraq, was a period of transition, during which the Bush administration struggled to fashion a response to events that destroyed its illusions that the world’s problems could be “managed” by a small knot of confident and competent pragmatists, acting in the spirit of humble realpolitik. The invasion of Iraq marked the start of the third period—a new era of Pax Americana, distinguished by the energetic exercise of U.S. power not simply to protect the status quo of American global preeminence but to extend the current liberal international order, beginning in the Middle East.
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