•“Power shrinks when it is wielded poorly.”Failed or open-ended wars dimin-power. Mistakes and continual changing of course can also diminish power.the Founders’ and Framers’ original intent for the source pool and main sanctuary of American power—the law; and importantly, not a sanctu-ary found in rule by law, but rather in rule of law.on half-way into its second decade, military force has occupied a central place in American foreign policy as the nation has confronted new threats, opportunities, and responsibilities resulting from globaliza-tion and other geopolitical shifts in the international environment. Questions about whether and how to intervene militarily have become more important than ever.Since the end of the Cold War, and certainly since the shock of 9/11, the United States has found itself faced with a “Goldilocks” dilemma. It answer to the operational questions of the day—that is, how to project and exercise military power in a manner that is effective, but just and lawful. It is at the heart of this goldilocks challenge where questions of American power versus force lie.The post–Cold War period has proven to be a period of widespread have been able to contain. Since 9/11, the international community has had to confront the rise of transnational terrorists. It has also been chal-lenged to accommodate developing norms and obligations related to such things as human security, self-determination, and human rights.US military interventions since 1989 have fostered tectonic changes in the international system. They have challenged traditional norms, principles, rules, and decisionmaking procedures that have provided sta-bility to the system for the past sixty years. In particular, US interventions have challenged what was once considered largely inviolable—territorial sovereignty.While the 1990s witnessed the beginnings of a decline in inter-others—has been the rising call and drive for foreign interventions aimed against sovereign states on behalf of citizens and communities within those states.Thus, the inviolability of state territorial sovereignty has unraveled, in part through a combination of changes in the international security system, but also at the hands of interveners among whom the United States has been and continues to be a lead participant.
AMERICANPOWERINTRANSITIONWilson 21Figure. The Paradox of American PowerIndeed, it has become apparent that the United States has had a profound effect on the destabilization of the international system and that it has challenged the traditional legal and normative international just intervention, and the limited and precision uses of force as one (but not the only) application of American power, for a half century. The power dilemma facing the United States and the international com-munity today is one of a goldilocks story line—it involves reconciling focused on checking territorial aggressions by asserting near-absolute state sovereignty.
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