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America’s Self-Defeating Hegemony

When I wrote about the “end of history” almost twenty years ago, one thing that I did not anticipate was the degree to which American behavior and misjudgments would make anti-Americanism one of the chief fault-lines of global politics. And yet, particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that is precisely what has happened, owing to four key mistakes made by the Bush administration.

First, the doctrine of “preemption,” which was devised in response to the 2001 attacks, was inappropriately broadened to include Iraq and other so-called “rogue states” that threatened to develop weapons of mass destruction. To be sure, preemption is fully justified vis-à-vis stateless terrorists wielding such weapons. But it cannot be the core of a general non-proliferation policy, whereby the United States intervenes militarily everywhere to prevent the development of nuclear weapons.