Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post-Cold War Era

ISBN : 9780190692247

Michael Mandelbaum
504 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2017
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The end of the Cold War led to a dramatic and fundamental change in the foreign policy of the United States. In Mission Failure, Michael Mandelbaum, one of America's leading foreign-policy thinkers, provides an original, provocative, and definitive account of the ambitious but deeply flawed post-Cold War efforts to promote American values and American institutions throughout the world. In the decades before the Cold War ended the United States, like virtually every other country throughout history, used its military power to defend against threats to important American international interests or to the American homeland itself. When the Cold War concluded, however, it embarked on military interventions in places where American interests were not at stake. Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo had no strategic or economic importance for the United States, which intervened in all of them for purely humanitarian reasons. Each such intervention led to efforts to transform the local political and economic systems. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, launched in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, turned into similar missions of transformation. None of them achieved its aims. Mission Failure describes and explains how such missions came to be central to America's post-Cold War foreign policy, even in relations with China and Russia in the early 1990s and in American diplomacy in the Middle East, and how they all failed. Mandelbaum shows how American efforts to bring peace, national unity, democracy, and free-market economies to poor, disorderly countries ran afoul of ethnic and sectarian loyalties and hatreds and foundered as well on the absence of the historical experiences and political habits, skills, and values that Western institutions require. The history of American foreign policy in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall is, he writes, "the story of good, sometimes noble, and thoroughly American intentions coming up against the deeply embedded, often harsh, and profoundly un-American realities of places far from the United States. In this encounter the realities prevailed."


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: China, the Global Economy, and Russia
A New Administration in a New World
China and Human Rights
Economics as Foreign Policy
Russia: The Good Deed
Russia: The Bad Deed

Chapter 3: Humanitarian Intervention
The Innovation
Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda
Famous Victories

Chapter 4: The War on Terror and Afghanistan
To the World Trade Center
The War on Terror
Afghanistan: Success
Afghanistan: Failure
Afghanistan: The Long Goodbye

Chapter 5: Iraq
From War to War
From Success to Failure
The Wars After the War
The Home Front
Exit and Reentry

Chapter 6: The Middle East
The Center of the World
The Peace Process
Land for War
The Democracy Agenda
The Arab Spring

Chapter 7: The Restoration
The End of the Post-Cold War Era
The Bubbles Burst
The Rogues
The Rise of China
The Revenge of Russia

Chapter 8: Conclusion

About the author: 

Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the author or co-author of sixteen books, including The Ideas That Conquered the World, The Meaning of Sports, The Frugal Superpower, and, with Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times Best Seller That Used To Be Us.

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