1970 Anti Ballistic Missile ABM Treaty which many experts regard as the

1970 anti ballistic missile abm treaty which many

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1970 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which many experts regard as the cornerstone of modern arms control agreements. Unilateralism, of course, is not a new feature of American foreign policy. In every historical era, the United States has shown a willingness to reject treaties, violate rules, ignore allies, and use military force on its own. But many observers see today’s unilateralism as practiced by the Bush administration as something much more sweeping — not an occasional ad hoc policy deci- sion but a new strategic orientation, or what one pundit calls the “new unilateralism.” 12 In the background, longer-term shifts in the global system provided the permissive circumstances for
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| 53 the Bush administration’s big doctrinal move. The shift from Cold-War bipolarity to American unipolarity has triggered a geopolitical adjustment process that ran through the 1990s and continues today. Unipolarity has given the United States more discretionary resources and, without a peer competitor or a great power balancing coalition arrayed around it, the external constraints on American action are significantly reduced. But with the end of the Cold War, other states are not dependent on the United States for protection as much and a unifying common threat has been eliminated. So old bargains, alliance partner- ships, and shared strategic visions are thrown into question. At the very least, the shift in power advantages in favor of the United States would help explain why it might want to renegotiate older rules and institutions. More profoundly, however, unipolarity may be creating conditions that reduce the willingness of the United States to support and operate within a loosely rule-based order. If America is less depen- dent on other states for its own security, it has reduced incentives to accept the restraints entailed in alliances and multilateral agreements. Incentives for other states to free ride on a unipolar America also increase. Under these circumstances, the United States may indeed act unilaterally in ways it did not in the past or, in the absence of willing partners, its own willingness to provide hegemonic leadership may decline. 13 The erosion of international norms of state sov- ereignty is also putting pressure on the old liberal hegemonic order. This is the quiet revolution in world politics: the rise of rights within the inter- national community to intervene within states to protect individuals against the abuses of their own governments. The contingent character of sovereignty was pushed further after September 11 in the intervention in Afghanistan where outside military force, used to topple a regime that actively protected terrorist attackers, was seen as an accept- able act of self-defense. But the erosion of state sovereignty has not been accompanied by the rise of new norms about how sovereignty-transgressing interventions should proceed.
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  • Fall '19
  • Cold War, Henry Kissinger, Edward Mead Earle

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