The Illusion of Control: Force and Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

Front Cover
Brookings Institution Press, May 26, 2004 - Political Science - 196 pages

This provocative book assesses the implications of a disturbing trend in U.S. security policy: an increased willingness to use military force as an instrument of diplomacy. In The Illusion of Control, Seyom Brown shows how U.S. officials are relying on force to counter a wide range of threats to America's global interests—eclipsing previous strategies that restricted the use of military force to situations in which the country's vital interests were at stake. Brown points out that a disposition to employ military power broadly as an instrument of diplomacy was on the rise well before September 11, 2001— and it shows every sign of persisting into the future. While resorting to force may seem to be a reliable way to establish control over a disorderly world, Brown cautions that expecting to gain and maintain control through military prowess could turn out to be a dangerous illusion. In fact, employing new military technologies in an effort to control international terrorist activities, wars, and civil conflicts is likely to pull the United States into excessive commitments and imprudent action. Brown analyzes the growing willingness of U.S. government officials to use force, then critically assesses the strategic, political, and moral implications for the United States. Adapting traditional "just war" concepts to contemporary strategic, political, and technological realities, he offers a set of guidelines to help ensure that use-of-force decisions are approached with the judicious care and gravity they warrant.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction Force and Foreign Policy Revisited
1
The Disposition to Use Force Crisis Reaction or General Trend?
16
The Changing Structure of World Politics
49
The Changing Shape of War
78
The Just War Tradition Revisited
105
The Control of Illusions Using Military Power Judiciously
142
Excerpts from A National Security Strategy for a New Century
179
Excerpts from On Military Transformation
181
Excerpts from The National Security Strategy of the United States
185
Index
189
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 45 - 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 inaction - and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack.
Page 150 - I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.
Page 186 - Given the 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 today's threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries ' choice of weapons, do not permit that option.
Page 45 - While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country; and denying further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities.
Page 42 - America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women; religious and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property.
Page 22 - The primary purpose of our arms is peace, not war— to make certain that they will never have to be used— to deter all wars, general or limited, nuclear or conventional, large or small— to convince all potential aggressors that any attack would be futile —to provide backing for diplomatic settlement of disputes— to insure the adequacy of our bargaining power for an end to the arms race.
Page 186 - Traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against a terrorist enemy whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents...
Page 187 - ... concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction — weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.
Page 186 - Today, our enemies see weapons of mass destruction as weapons of choice. For rogue states these weapons are tools of intimidation and military aggression against their neighbors. These weapons may also allow these states to attempt to blackmail the United States and our allies to prevent us from deterring or repelling the aggressive behavior of rogue states.

About the author (2004)

Seyom Brown is Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation in the Department of Politics at Brandeis Univesity. He has held senior research and policy analysis positions at the RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Recent books include Human Rights in World Politics (Longman, 2000), New Forces, Old Forces, and the Future of World Politics (HarperCollins, 1995), The Faces of Power: Constancy and Change in United States Foreign Policy from Truman to Clinton (Columbia, 1994), and The Causes and Prevention of War (St. Martins, 1994).

Bibliographic information