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Unformatted text preview: curity guarantees are credible. Putting its allies at ease isn't so easy, though. The United States must convince them it will - defend their interests, even when those interests are disconnected from U.S. territorial security, or--as with the defense of Western Europe during the cold war--when defending them is so risky to the United States as to possibly appear to others (allies and adversaries alike) as irrational. The entire fabric of American grand strategy would unravel if U.S. allies no longer felt
reassured by Washington's security umbrella. If the credibility of U.S. commitments to regional stability is questioned, that "in turn could cause allies and friends to adopt more divergent defense policies and postures, thereby weakening the web of alliances and coalitions on which we rely 6 to protect our interests abroad." ' Hence, credibility is viewed by U.S. decision makers as a vital interest.62 To establish its credibility, however, the United States often is forced to intervene in conflicts where its own interests are not at stake." Indeed, Robert McMahon has noted that this explains a paradox: the United States tends to intervene most frequently "in areas of demonstrably marginal value to core U.S. economic and security interests. "64 Precisely by being willing to fight in such places, the
United States, or so policymakers believe, establishes its credibility.
65 Of course, it's not so easy for U.S. policymakers to explain to domestic SLHS Value File
audiences why the United States must intervene in regions of marginal strategic value, or why it must act before there is any obvious threat to U.S. interests. This is why, as John A. Thompson puts it, threat exaggeration--which includes the frequent invocation of domino imagery--is an American foreign policy tradition. 66 As Jerome Slater observes, notwithstanding the cold war's end, the domino theory
retains its vitality in U.S. strategic thought. There are two reasons for this. First, the United States remains overwhelming...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13