Temptations of Powerexamines the new security dilemma which confronted President George W. Bush when terrorists proved for the first time on 9/11 that they could seriously wound even the greatest of military powers on its home ground. In their indictment, the authors argue that the response was influenced by a neo-conservative exaggeration of the efficacy of military power and a belief in the USA's ability to change the world and its own image. The first results were attacks on Afghanistan in 2001 and on Iraq in 2003, and the adoption of a general strategy of preventive war. Far from helping the War on Terror on which the Administration embarked, such attacks have shown the limitations of US power. The US is now embroiled in counter-insurgent operations in quagmires that are now sapping its economic, moral and military strength. Terrorism needs to be understood and its political roots addressed; the Muslim world will have to decide itself whether to adopt democratic systems of government; preventive wars are illegal and destabilising; threats from the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons have to be addressed multilaterally; and the effort to prevent terrorist attacks in US homeland threatens in turn to undermine civil liberties. The new security dilemma needs to be addressed by new politics but not those Washington has adopted since 2001.

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