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6 - Free hand abroad, divide and rule at home

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

G. John Ikenberry
Princeton University, New Jersey
Michael Mastanduno
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
William C. Wohlforth
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
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Why did America invade Iraq? The glib answer is “because it could.” In the unipolar moment the immediate costs and risks of using military force against Saddam Hussein's hollow, troublesome regime seemed low to US leaders.

But this explanation begs the important questions. Dispro-portionate power allows greater freedom of action, but it is consistent with a broad spectrum of policies, ranging from messianic attempts to impose a new world order to smug attempts to insulate oneself from the world's quagmires. How this freedom is used depends on how threats and opportunities are interpreted when viewed through the prism of ideology and domestic politics.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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