In This Review

The Illusion of Control: Force and Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century
The Illusion of Control: Force and Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century
By Seyom Brown
Brookings Institution Press, 2003, 196 pp
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Since the end of the Cold War, policymakers and theorists have debated when and how the United States should use armed force. The Clinton administration broadened the grounds for military action but remained cautious in practice. The Bush administration argued for more restricted use but has adopted an activist posture since September 11. Brown's contribution to the debate is more a matter of means than ends. His description of the increasing disposition to use force follows a familiar path, but his main point, as the title indicates, is to warn against overselling the precision and decisiveness of the military -- and, consequently, the ability of the United States to act alone. Those who are convinced that the United States is "bound to lead" may have kidded themselves into believing that it is not also "bound to bleed." During this difficult postwar period in Iraq, Brown's message is both salutary and timely.