America and the International System: Resent, Resist, Compete

Have American actions in Iraq strengthened or weakened US power? And is Europe squaring up as a counterweight in a multi-polar world?

The World Today
Published 1 July 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 5 minute READ

Professor Charles Kupchan

Professor, International Affairs, Georgetown University

With America still struggling to bring order and security to Iraq, it is too soon to judge how that war and the transatlantic rift that accompanied it will affect the evolution of the international system.

From one perspective, America’s successful campaign to topple Saddam Hussein appears to have opened a new American century. The United States displayed the stunning effectiveness of a military establishment that is second to none. Washington also demonstrated its readiness to act as it sees fit, launching the war even though it failed to attain the approval of the UN Security Council.

The lessons seem clear. Countries that opposed America, such as France, Germany and Russia, had better think twice before they again cross the world’s only superpower. ‘Rogue’ nations had also better change their ways – or prepare for the worst. America under President George Bush appears to be the new Rome.

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