The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States After the Cold War

In This Review

The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States After the Cold War

By Richard N. Haass
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1997
156 pp. $24.95
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A clear and often cogent reconstruction of the proper lineaments of contemporary American grand strategy. Though one suspects that the "age of deregulation" -- Haass' term for the post-Cold War era -- will not catch on as the paradigm of the year, many of the dangers the author espies in the international environment do require consensual leadership by the United States. The principal merit of the book lies in its depiction of how and to what ends this leadership ought to be exercised. Haass rejects "hegemony" as well as isolationism, casts a skeptical eye on the expansion of the democratic alliance, and argues strongly against unilateralism in commercial policy. He is more of a unilateralist in security affairs, but even here insists rightly that unilateralism is in most instances "neither wise nor sustainable." Haass may underestimate the importance of standing institutions in legitimizing and supporting the attempts of the "reluctant sheriff" to organize "coalitions of the willing," but most persuasive is his insistence on conceiving American purposes in terms sufficiently enlarged that they may be shared and supported by a broad international consensus.

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