In This Review

Rogue States and U.S. Foreign Policy: Containment After the Cold War
Rogue States and U.S. Foreign Policy: Containment After the Cold War
By Robert S. Litwak
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, 277 pp.

President Clinton and some of his leading officials, especially Anthony Lake and Madeleine Albright, have emphasized the critical challenge that "rogue states" pose to U.S. foreign policy. In response, Litwak makes two arguments. First, he finds the "rogue" label much too simplistic; it lumps together quite different countries and problems so as to satisfy the American appetite for exemplary villains. Although Litwak could have been more forgiving about the need to find some way to describe those closed, dictatorial states that reject American norms, his argument against oversimplification is persuasive. Second, he argues that the "rogue" category keeps Washington from fashioning the differentiated policies it needs for nations like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. This second point is less persuasive. Litwak's good case studies prove that U.S. policies toward these "rogues" already vary considerably to take account of differing circumstances. Since "rogue state" rhetoric does not seem to mean much in practice, Litwak's critique knocks down a straw man. Still, he was not the one who stuffed this scarecrow.