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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
December 2021
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Book description

The collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in American global hegemony in world affairs. In the post-Cold War period, both Democrat and Republican governments intervened, fought insurgencies, and changed regimes. In America's Wars, Thomas Henriksen explores how America tried to remake the world by militarily invading a host of nations beset with civil wars, ethnic cleansing, brutal dictators, and devastating humanitarian conditions. The immediate post-Cold War years saw the United States carrying out interventions in the name of Western-style democracy, humanitarianism, and liberal internationalism in Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. Later, the 9/11 terrorist attacks led America into larger-scale military incursions to defend itself from further assaults by al Qaeda in Afghanistan and from perceived nuclear arms in Iraq, while fighting small-footprint conflicts in Africa, Asia, and Arabia. This era is coming to an end with the resurgence of great power rivalry and rising threats from China and Russia.


‘Thomas Henriksen has given us a brisk and incisive tour d'horizon of American foreign policy in the three decades since the end of the Cold War. With admirable concision, America's Wars recounts the shifts in U.S. strategic posture from hegemonic hyperpower in the 1990s, to the war on terror in the early 2000s, to emerging great-power competition with China and Russia. And with unmatched clarity and urgency, Henriksen also traces the persistent themes of increasingly high-tech warfare as well as deepening American fatigue with the burdens of ‘exuberant internationalism.' Must reading for all who would understand the evolution of the complex threat environment taking shape as the twenty-first century unfolds.'

David M. Kennedy - author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

‘This is a rich history of America's post-cold war military interventions: in the past, the United States undertook ambitious interventions, often with less risk of larger conflagrations.  In this era of great power competition, the calculations will be more complex.  Students and policy makers will benefit from this excellent assessment.'

Nadia Schadlow - author of War and the Art of Governance: Consolidating Combat Success into Political Victory

‘The most glaring truth about the collapse of the Soviet bloc from 1989 to 1991 is that it proved not to be ‘the end of history.' As Thomas Henriksen chronicles is this insightful if painful narrative, America's post-Cold War presidents have squandered the nation's power, prestige, and prosperity in one after another ‘forever war.''

Walter A. McDougall - Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Tragedy of U.S Foreign Policy: How American Civil Religion betrayed the National Interest

‘In this excellent, balanced, and well-informed survey of US military interventions over the past thirty years, Henriksen provides a sober reminder that salafi jihadist terrorists will not end their war against the United States simply because we declare those wars to be over.'

Colin Dueck - author of Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism

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