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The United States and the 'New World Order': Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution *

Bjørn Møller **

COPRI Working Paper
June 1997



The 1991 Gulf War was accompanied by talk of a 'New World Order', not least in the USA. The implied promise was one of a greater respect for international law, a strengthening of the United Nations and a determined effort for arms control and disarmament, both globally and regionally. The paper evaluates developments since then, with a special focus on the accomplishments in the military sphere. In particular, it assesses the contribution of the United States to the creation of this new world (military) order. In conclusion, the US is found to be both part of the problem, because of its excessive military spending and penchant for unilateralism, and an indispensable part of the solution.

1. Introduction: George Bush and the New World Order

In his message to a joint session of the US Congress, 11 September 1990 (i.e. during the 'Desert Shield' phase of the Gulf conflict), President George Bush described the 'new world order' in the following words:

Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective-a new world order-can emerge: a new era, free from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony. 1

This vision was further elaborated in a similar presidential statement to Congress after the victorious operation Desert Storm, 6 March 1991:

Now we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is a very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a 'world order', in which 'the new principles of justice and fair play .. protect the weak against the strong...' A World where the United Nations, freed from the Cold War stalemate, is poised to fulfil the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations 2

Few would disagree with these lofty goals: freedom, justice, peace, human rights, rule of law, etc. In fact the vision is couched in terms that command consent. Even though one may disagree on what the terms imply, one cannot be against 'justice' or 'freedom'.

The questions to which the present paper will venture a tentative answer are more down-to-earth, namely:

2. America and the World

In order to answer the first question, I shall take a brief, and inevitably superficial, glance at US history.

According to most accounts, US history has been characterized by a greater-than-average impact of moral values on foreign policy as well as by a vacillation between isolationism and internationalism, unilateralism and multilateralism. 4

2.1. Isolationism and Internationalism

The most fundamental reason for this vacillation is, of course, that the United States, contrary to most of the world's nations, has a choice: It is secure enough geopolitically to stand aloof of wars and conflicts in the rest of the world, with only two exceptions: the very hypothetical case of another state establishing complete domination over the Eurasian landmass and developing naval capacities allowing it to reach the shores of the United States; and that of a hostile state in possession of nuclear weapons and suitable means of delivery with a 'strategic range' that allow it to strike at CONUS (Continental United States).

The US is also strong enough for unilateralism to be a feasible option, at least for the attainment of limited goals such as the defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as a wide range of 'interests' elsewhere. It is only when these 'interests' become global that a real need for multilateralism emerges, such as was the case with 'containment' during the coldest period of the Cold War (vide infra).

One of the first manifestations of the isolationist impulse was the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, according to which the United States would, on the one hand, tolerate no European interference in matters in the Americas--especially no resurgent European colonialism. On the other hand, the US would refrain from mingling in European affairs, i.e. remain neutral. 5 In perfect conformity with this doctrine, the United States stood largely aloof of the European race for colonies and spheres of influence in the latter part of the 19th century, but established its domination over the Americas through a war with Spain and various instances of 'gunboat diplomacy' in its 'near abroad' under the Theodore Roosewelt administration. 6

The 'Wilsonian liberalism' that flourished immediately after the turn of the century first entangled the USA in the First World War, albeit only in its final stages. Secondly, it manifested itself in a quest for a 'new world order', featuring national self-determination, free trade and collective security. 7 However, as a reminder of the continuing strength of isolationist sentiments, the so-called 'peace progressives' and others stubbornly opposed Wilson's plans with the result that the US Congress failed to give its consent to membership of the League of Nations. 8 This was a major setback for both internationalism and multilateralism as well as for the very idea of collective security. Whether this system would have worked, had the US lent the League its support, we shall never know. 9

Against this background, it required a determined effort by Franklin D. Roosewelt and others to persuade the United States to join the allies in the war against Nazi Germany and Japan. That FDR succeeded may, in fact, have been a stroke of 'luck': Had Japan not attacked Pearl Harbor, and had Hitler not declared war on America, the US might not have gone to war at all, or have done so much later, with possibly disastrous results. 10 It might also not have supported the plans for creating the United Nations-or have chosen to remain outside this organization.

It took a foe the size and strength of the Soviet Union, cast against the background of still vivid memories of a world war, to affect an abandonment of isolationism, as was manifested in the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, the Vandenberg resolution and the subsequent creation of NATO. 11 Spurred by (a misreading of) George Kennan's 'Long Telegram', 12 'containment' henceforth became the slogan for an almost boundless expansion of the notion of 'vital interests' that had to be defended at all costs. 13 'Deterrence' came to be seen as the most cost-effective means of defending these global interests. 14 However, as it was (probably erroneously) assumed that 'deterrence is difficult', whatever savings might have been achievable were squandered by the quest for a reputation of 'firmness'. 15

This enforced but boundless 'internationalism' necessitated an embrace of multilateralism, as not even the US military power sufficed for defending anything and anybody anywhere. Moreover, the stalemating of the United Nations by Soviet vetoes made it necessary to opt for the second best form of multilateralism, namely alliances, several of which were founded during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations: NATO, SEATO, CENTO, etc. 16

While this was an expression of an unprecedented internationalism, it was viewed (especially by critics) as one that was enforced upon the United States rather than a matter of free political choice. Moreover, the isolationist mood never vanished completely, and it was reinforced by the American debacle and eventual defeat in Vietnam that produced a 'Vietnam syndrome'. In a semi-isolationist vein the Nixon administration launched the 'Nixon doctrine', entailing a quest for disengagement via a strengthening (by means of arms sales and other military support) of regional 'hegemons' such as South Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iran, Zaire and (more sotto voce) South Africa. 17 Another expression of semi-isolationism was the attempt by Congress to 'tie the President's hand' by means of the War Powers Act that should prevent the Executive from plunging the nation into overseas engagements without the consent of the legislature. 18

Not only did 'traditional isolationists' continue to play a certain role, 19 but more 'mainstream' critics of the United Nations, NATO and other multilateral fora also exhibited neo-isolationist traits: by calling for disengagement, for US withdrawal from Europe or other regions, or merely for a more equitable 'burden-sharing'. 20 One might even count the recent 'imperial overstretch' debate as a manifestation of neo-isolationism as it depicts internationalism as a recipe for imperial overstretch that will precipitate imperial decline. 21

Traditionally, it has been the Democrats who have waved the internationalist banner, while the Republicans have tended more towards isolationism, if only because of their penchant for 'balanced budgets' and low taxes which militates against costly overseas commitments and excessive military expenditures. However, an equation of Republicans with isolationists and Democrats with internationalists is much too simplistic. For instance, several 'containment alliances' were forged by Eisenhower; the 'Reagan Doctrine' envisioned the promotion of democracy abroad; 22 and the 'new world order' was proclaimed by George Bush--all of them Republicans pursuing an internationalist agenda. Also military expenditures sky-rocketed not only during the (Democratic) Kennedy but also during the (Republican) Nixon and, even more so, Reagan administrations. 23 A more accurate description may thus be that both parties contain internationalists and isolationists, even though there are more of the former among the Democrats and more of the latter among the Republicans--the difference remains small enough for external impulses to be able to tip the balance. 24

It may also be the case that the real divide is not so much between isolationists and internationalist as between unilateralists and multilateralists-the former abhorring the 'tying of America's hands' that commitments to international organizations imply, the latter being more comfortable with such constraints if only they also provide benefits. 25 Here we find the same difference between Democrats and Republicans as above, the latter tending more towards unilateralism than the former. For instance, even though both Democrats and Republicans have engaged in 'UN bashing', the latter have excelled considerably more in this than the latter.

2.2. Exceptionalism and the 'Goodness Theme'

An even more consistent trait of American foreign policy opinion than isolationism and/or unilateralism may be what has aptly been called 'exceptionalism', 26 i.e. the belief that America is special, hence that special rules apply to the United States. Such a view may not only point directly towards isolationism and unilateralism; it is also a blatant contradiction of the aforementioned 'golden rule', the main tenet of which is precisely that there should be no exceptions and that all states are bound by the same set of rules.

The exceptionalist mood partly reflects exceptional circumstances. What is exceptional about the United States is, among other things, the fact that it is so secure: No enemies on either side, hence no danger of having a war enforced upon it. Of course, the Japanese did attack Pearl Harbor, but among national disasters this surely scores rather low. 27 Should the US thus become embroiled in war is will be in one of its own choosing, a privileged position that few states enjoy.

Democracies tend to be more pacific than non-democracies, at least in the sense that they rarely, if ever, attack or are attacked by other non-democracies. 28 Hence, if a democratic state is so fortunate as to have a choice between going to war or not, it had better be worth it: Either the war must serve the national interest, or it must be a moral imperative. However, few wars promise net benefits for 'trading states' such as the USA, with a plentiful supply of land and natural resources. Hence the need for a moral justification of war, which must be fought for (what is held to be) the good of mankind. This was, for instance, the case of the war against Nazi Germany and of the (Cold) war against the Soviet 'evil Empire'--just as of the war (fought on behalf of the UN) against Adolf Hitler's alleged modern counterpart, Saddan Hussein. 29 Indeed, according to President Bush (in the above mentioned speech to Congress, 6 March 1991), Operation Desert Storm was a reflection of goodness and kindness of heart:

Americans are a caring people. We are a good people, a generous people. Let us always be caring and good and generous in all we do. ... We went halfway around the world to do what is moral and just and right. We fought hard and -with others-we won the war. We lifted the yoke of aggression and tyranny from a small country that many Americans had never even heard of, and we ask nothing in return. 30

It would be obviously wrong to let anything stand in the way of such untarnished goodness, be it the constraints of a bureaucratic and inefficient United Nations, or the limitations of international law. Good people do good deeds, and whoever doubts this must be wrong, not only logically and factually, but also morally.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the present author also holds the Gulf War to have been a 'good deed' or even 'a blessed war', as a Danish newspaper editor put it. By and large, it was fought for a good cause ('to right a wrong') and in conformity with international law, the laws of war or the tenets of 'just war' theory, both as far as jus ad bellum and jus in bello provisions were concerned. 31 However, self-congratulatory expressions such as found in the above quote smack of 'exceptionalism' in the sense of describing a country to which the usual rules do not apply. If good people do (only) good deeds; and if the American people are good; then whatever the USA does, and the American people condones, must be good (quod erat demonstrandum). However, not only is this a classical logical fallacy, it also bodes rather ill for international stability. A country that does not regard itself as bound by the rules applying to the rest of international society is, in a certain (in this case benign) sense, a 'rogue state'. 32

On the other hand, this 'goodness theme' may well be an authentic expression of deep-rooted American sentiments. The new world order, with its many 'good' qualities is probably seen as merely a manifestation of the inherent American goodness, i.e. an America projected onto the world as a whole. This lends some prima facie plausibility to the 'new world order' discourse as sincere. Not in the sense that whoever talks about the new/good world order may not have a hidden agenda (e.g. by trying to justify a selfish endeavour with reference to unselfish objectives) but in the sense that the reason s/he succeeds is that the theme resonates well in the American public. 33

Having thus established that the 'new (or good) world order' may well be a genuine expression of American ideology, rather than empty rhetoric, we are left with the question whether the United States has actually promoted such a new and better world order by its deeds.

3. Implications of 'New World Order'

For all their beauty, the descriptions of the new world order contained in the above quotations from President Bush are not sufficiently precise to allow for a closer analysis. Subsequent speeches along with scholarly analyses, however, seem to allow for an interpretation according to which the envisioned new world order would exhibit the following characteristics 34 :

These goals are believed by their (neo-liberalist and/or neo-institutionalist) advocates to be mutually reinforcing and to promote world peace. It remains disputed whether democracy begets peace or vice versa; or whether a market economy promotes democracy, thereby strengthening peace, or whether it furthers peaceful international relations in and of itself. 38 However, with the exception of die-hard neo- and structural realists, 39 there is little dispute about the general positive correlation between all these factors. If all states, as well as the international system as a whole, were lawful, democratic, market-oriented and respectful of human rights, the world would not 'only' be a better, but also a more peaceful place.

The new world order would also entail an enhanced role for the multilateralism, personified in the United Nations as well as in regional organizations--even though it is disputed whether to give priority to one or the other. Regardless of their scope, however, multilateral solutions should be given priority over unilateralist ones, both with regard to peacekeeping and enforcement, conflict prevention and resolution.

Finally, and in recognition of the prospects of a more peaceful world, the new world order should be less heavily armed that the old one. Hence the implicit goal of preventing arms races by moving beyond mere arms control to actual disarmament. As a guideline for how low to go the criterion has sometimes been mentioned that states should have the ability to defend themselves but not to attack others. 40 More particularly, the talk of the new world order has included suggestions to regulate the international arms trade--according to the same 'defence only' criterion (vide infra).

This description appears to capture most of the distinguishing features of the new world order. If it does not, the author apologizes to George Bush, Bill Clinton and others, as a loyal representation of whose views the above is intended. It is certainly not a caricature but the description of a world order that would not only be different from, but also far preferable to, the one in which we presently live. This leaves us with the question what the United States has done to make it a reality, i.e. with the need to perform a number of 'reality checks'.

4. Reality Check 1: Rule of Law?

The legality theme is central to the 'new world order discourse'. But has the US actions really promoted respect for international law? The past US record of compliance with international law is not impressive.

First of all, the United States has a long history of interventions, dating back to Theodore Roosewelt. Since the unambiguous proscription of aggressive war with the 1928 Briand-Kellogg pact and the 1945 UN Charter, 41 there have also been several instances of, now clearly unlawful, armed interventions. Recent instances have included those in the Dominican Republic 1965, Lebanon 1982, Grenada 1983, Libya 1986, and Panama 1989, to which should be added the 1984 mining of the harbour of Managua, and the repeated bombardments of Iraq since the 1991 ceasefire. 42 In some cases the United States has sought and received United Nations endorsement ex post facto, but there is little to indicate that this has always been a conditio sine qua non of intervention. As a last resort option, the US would have been protected by its veto in the Security Council against any reprisals.

Secondly, the US also has a long history of 'covert interventions', falling into two main categories: Instigation of coups (by means of the CIA and other agencies, as in Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Cuba 1961 or Chile 1973); and military and other support for subversive guerilla movements such as the Nicaraguan Contras--i.e. what has aptly been called 'paramilitary intervention'. 43 Both interventions and subversive activities are in clear violation of the UN Charter and other tenets of international law, according to which states have no right to interfere in each other's internal affairs. However, such interference may occasionally appear justified according to other standards, e.g. in cases of 'brutal wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilizing society', as formulated in the 'Roosewelt corollary' to the Monroe Doctrine. 44 These criteria would, for instance, seem entirely applicable to Haiti, as well as perhaps to Panama under the rule of Noriega. However, they would have been equally applicable to Nicaragua under the Somoza regime (which enjoyed US support)--and certainly much more so than to the same country under the rule of the Sandinastas whom the US sought to depose. 45

The problem is not so much the selectivity with regard to interventions (which is probably inevitable), nor is it the fact that some interventions have taken place that were not only unlawful but also wrong according to ethical criteria. Rather, the main problem is that the United States does not seem to regard itself as bound by the same rules as the rest of the world's states: Another instance of the exceptionalism flowing from the above--mentioned 'goodness syndrome'. A recent, and otherwise excellent, study of interventions (by Richard Haas) seems representative of this view: Rather than analysing how the United States might contribute to a strengthening of the United Nations, e.g. by empowering it to undertake whatever interventions the author deems required, he compares the United Nations as an instrument of US foreign policy with the unilateral US use of force. 46 To paraphrase JFK, the question thus posed is 'what the UN can do for your country', rather than 'what your country can do for the UN', as it rightly should be, and as most other nations see it.

Another example of the same exceptionalism is the view of the former president of the American Society of International Law, professor emeritus Myres McDougal, of the ruling by the International Court of Justice in the 'Nicaragua case'. The ruling in favour of Nicaragua led him to conclude that it 'most unhappily, raises grave questions about the capabilities of a judicial body, under the contemporary circumstances of contending world public orders, to make rational decisions in the common interest about the regulation of major coercion and violence', an assessment that the distinguished author supported with a number of classical tu quoque arguments: that the USSR had also violated international law, etc. 47 However, international law is all about respect for the decisions of legitimate legal institutions, even when they hold views different from one's own--and it is surely incompatible with the popular view that 'two wrongs make a right'.

5. Reality Check 2: Multilateralism?

Despite the expressed hope and implied promise to finally make the United Nations function as it was envisioned by its founders (including the USA), the United States has been less than helpful in this respect.

First of all, successive administrations have accumulated a huge dept to the world organization that has been a major contributory cause of the financial crisis of the UN. 48 Another cause has, of course, been the expansion of UN activities, not least in the realm of peacekeeping and the even more demanding new types of military operations described in the 1992 Agenda for Peace. 49 As a result, the UN came close to bankruptcy, a plight that also made the organization vulnerable, hence susceptible to the blackmail-like bargaining of the United States with regard to the choice of secretary General. Upon having defeated the detested Boutros-Ghali, however, the Clinton administration has pledged to gradually pay its arrears to the UN 50 -which may point in the direction of a more UN-friendly policy.

Secondly, contrary to several smaller nations (including the present author's), the United States has been less than helpful in providing the required military forces for UN operations. While everybody else agreed that what mattered in Croatia and subsequently in Bosnia was the provision of ground forces, the US initially limited its contribution to air forces--and even threatened to 'go it alone' with air strikes against Serbian targets and a unilateral lifting of the arms embargo on all parties to the conflict in order to provide the Bosnian muslims with weapons. 51 While the arming of one side may occasionally help bring about peace, in other cases it may have the opposite effect of prolonging war. 52 However, it invariably compromises impartiality, thereby hampering peace-keeping missions--and for a great power to (threaten to) go it alone does little to enhance the UN's or the OSCE's authority.

The US participation in IFOR (Implementation Force) and subsequently in SFOR was a welcome innovation, also because the US was now willing to place its troops under multinational command (something most other nations do on a routine basis, to be sure). 53 In the words of US ambassador (ret.) James F. Leonard:

...The United States must not arrogate to itself an exceptional status. We should be as willing as others to see our forces under a commander of another nationality, insisting of course that the commander be competent. And we should not adopt the offensive notion that our forces should not get mud on their boots, confining our contribution to naval, air, or logistic units. It is repugnant and even racist to argue that UN forces should come from countries where wages are low and 'life is cheap' 54

On the other hand, because of their almost complete lack of experience with such 'peace support' missions, the performance of US forces has left a lot to be desired, according to many observers: They have generally shown insufficient comprehension of the political complexities of the peace-keeping task and an unfortunate propensity to look for 'quick fixes'. Only belatedly did the US planning staffs provide manuals of peacekeeping (and other peace support operations) which were, not entirely fortunately, lumped together with other 'operations other than war' such as unilateral anti-terrorist or anti-narcotics operations. 55 The propensity for quick fixes was underpinned by the Clinton administration's ludicrously short envisaged time span for IFOR that mirrored the--likewise less than realistic and certainly not at all helpful--time perspective for the Somali operation. 56 Eventually, however, the Clinton administration came around to pledge support for SFOR, something which was also a most welcome step in the right direction.

Finally, the US use of its veto powers--especially to shield Israel against condemnation of, and reprisals for, actions in unequivocal violation of international law 57 -does little to facilitate a much needed legitimacy--enhancing UN reform: Among several proposals for a reformed UN Security Council, the most realistic one seems to be the cooptation of new permanent members (Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and a major African state), yet without veto powers--as a corollary of which the present permanent members should pledge to only use their veto in rare cases of extreme national emergencies. 58 This has hardly been the case of the recent US vetoes.

All considered, US actions have thus done little to enhance the UN's authority, which it has even tried to undermine by means of a vociferous criticism (on the part of the administration, Congress and the media) of the UN for inefficiency. It is not, of course, that there is no truth in such allegations, 59 but to a significant extent the deficiencies are caused by the behaviour and attitude of the great powers within the organization, including the United States itself.

Generally, the United States has had a more favourable attitude to regional organizations--albeit with a distinct preference for those in which it enjoys a satisfactory degree of influence. The US was thus very supportive of the very founding of (what we today know as) the European Communities as well as of the OAS, OAU, ASEAN, GCC and other regional organizations around the world. It was, understandably, less favourably inclined towards such organizations as Comecon, the Warsaw Pact, OPEC or the Non-Aligned Movement. Also, to the extent that the US has seen some, otherwise entirely respectable, organizations as possible rivals to preferred ones, its support has been rather lukewarm-as has, for instance been the case of the OSCE and its predecessor, the CSCE (which was, of course, a process and an institution rather than an organization). 60 Finally, one might surmise that the US support has presupposed a leading position, even in the favourite organizations. For instance, the US would probably not have lent its support to a non-American supreme allied commander in NATO (SACEUR)--perhaps not even in exchange for the position as Secretary General of the alliance, as has been suggested. 61

Declaratorily at least, the Clinton administration seems to have a firmer commitment multilateralism, albeit not so much in the sense of support for the UN as of alliances--and without relinquishing the unilateralist option, as illustrated by the following formulations from the 1996 report:

[T]he only responsible strategy for the United States is one of international engagement. Isolationism in any form would reduce U.S. security by undercutting the United States' ability to influence events abroad that can affect the well-being of Americans.... The United States will always retain the capability to intervene unilaterally when its interests are threatened

6. Reality Check 3: Disarmament?

The United States seems to have disregarded the Hamiltonian admonition that 'Extensive military establishments cannot, in this position, be necessary to our security'. 62 The implied over-armament is, however, a fairly recent phenomenon.

Before the First World War, for instance, the United States had only very most armed forces. As a result, the entry into the war necessitated a mobilization that was accomplished with impressive speed. Following the termination of hostilities, moreover, the US underwent a far-reaching demobilization that was only reversed after the start of the Second World War--once again with impressive results. In continuity with this 'strategy of unreadiness', the defeat of first Germany and subsequently Japan was soon followed by yet another demobilization. 63

Preparedness is thus a distinctly Cold War phenomenon. It appeared justified by several new factors, including the magnitude of the threat, personified by the Soviet Union, and the anticipated lead times for major weapons, determined by developments in military technology. As a consequence, the Cold War was accompanied by an unprecedented degree of US military preparedness, visible also in the high peacetime military expenditures and an arms industry that remained on a virtual 'war footing'. 64

6.1. The Bottom Up Review

The end of the Cold War obviously removed the rationale for this arrangement and thus necessitated a review of US defence planning. Realizing that in this endeavour the Administration was up against the powerful factor of bureaucratic inertia, a so-called 'Bottom Up Review' was undertaken. The proclaimed intention was, as had previously been suggested by independent analysts, 65 to undertake an unbiased assessment of military needs: What threats might the US be up against, which military requirements did this entail; and what type of forces, in what numbers, would be needed to meet these requirements. The findings of the BUR, how ever, were rather disappointing, as it came up with recommendations for slightly less of the same kind of military power as had previously been fielded against the USSR. 66

What did the 'trick' was the expansion of the very notion of security-once again something that had been proposed by peace researchers and others. 67 According to the Department of Defence's 1996 Annual Defence Report, the following constitute 'threats to the interests of the United States, its allies, and its friends':

Attempts by regional powers hostile to U.S. interests to gain hegemony in their regions through aggression or intimidation; Internal conflicts among ethnic, national, religious, or tribal groups that threaten innocent lives, force mass migration, and undermine stability and international order; Threats by potential adversaries to acquire or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery; Threats to democracy and reform in the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and elsewhere; Subversion and lawlessness that undermine friendly governments; Terrorism; Threats to U.S. prosperity and economic growth; Global environmental degradation; The illegal drug trade; International crime.

As far as threat analysis was concerned, a new term was coined, namely that of 'rogue states' that were unruly and unpredictable--with Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea as the most obvious candidates. 68 Hence the need to be able to defend the United States' 'interests' against such states, or rather (because of their smallness, compared with the USSR) against a couple of such states simultaneously. The ambition was thus to be able to fight and win two 'nearly simultaneous' MRCs (major regional conflicts), the rationale being that one rogue might otherwise take advantage of the US being engaged in a war with another. In the 1996 Defence Report this was formulated thusly:

U.S. forces must be able to offset the military power of regional states with interests opposed to those of the United States and its allies. To do this, the United States must be able to credibly deter and, if required, decisively defeat aggression, in concert with regional allies, by projecting and sustaining U.S. power in two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts (MRCs).

The superficial similarity notwithstanding, this is actually quite different from the requirement to fight a two-front war that many other nations have accepted. While Germany had to reckon with the worst case of a simultaneous Russian and French attack, and the USSR had to plan for a war against China as well as NATO, 69 the two wars the United States has in mind are, in the final analysis, of its own choosing; none of them features any attack against CONUS; and both are to be waged offensively with a view to achieving a swift and decisive victory.

This 'two war doctrine' is in obvious breach of the golden rule, as the world would be an extremely unstable place if more than one power had such a level of ambition-to say nothing of the hypothetical case where all states did. Fortunately, however, no other nation has a level of ambition even remotely comparable to this. Considering that it does not even mention to strategic objective of defence of the national territory, but only defence of 'interests', the two-MRC doctrine may well be the most offensive military doctrine ever devised by any nation--at least comparable to that of the Mongols under Genghis Khan! 70

This may be a rather surprising assessment, and it should be emphasized that 'offensive' is not the same as 'aggressive'. It implies no desire for war, but only the intention to wage a war offensively. It is probably self-evident to most Americans, plausible to the present author, and certainly entirely possible that this formidable military power would never be used for aggressive purposes. However, the United States might be well-advised not to take for granted that its defensive intentions are equally self-evident to others as they are to itself, particularly not to states that are ostracized as 'rogues'.

In all fairness, it must be said that US military expenditures have declined since the end of the Cold War-by 40 percent compared with the 1985 level. However, they did so from a very high level and have yet to come down to anywhere near the traditional peacetime level. Yet the United States is officially very concerned about the 'excessive' armament of other countries, including China, India or Iran. However, the comparisons in the table above clearly reveal allegations as reflecting double standards, as none of these countries are anywhere near the level of US military expenditures in absolute or per capita terms, nor comparable with regard to the degree of 'relative militarization'--measured in the percentage of the population under arms or the share of GDP used for military purposes. 71

US military expenditures appear even more excessive when viewed as a percentage of global military spending (34 percent), and further considering that Americans represent a mere five percent of the world's population. Also, the fact should be taken into account that most of the other 'big spenders' are US allies or friends against whom there is surely no need for a defence.

6.2. The Two Faces of Counter-proliferation

One of the most prominent missions of the US military is 'counterproliferation'. 72 In the 1996 report, the implications of 'counter-proliferation' were summed up in the following formulations:

... a balanced, multitiered approach to counterproliferation, including enhancing U.S. capabilities in the following areas: Deterrence. ... Intelligence ... Ballistic and cruise missile defense. ... Passive defenses. ... Counterforce. Capabilities to seize, disable, or destroy WMD arsenals and their delivery means prior to their use without unacceptable collateral effects. Effective power projection. ... Defense against covert threats.

Much as one may sympathize (as does the present author) with the goal of non- and counter-proliferation, 73 some of these envisioned missions raise a number of questions: