In This Review

America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11
America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11
By Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier
PublicAffairs, 2008, 432 pp

U.S. foreign policy in the 1990s is still a contested topic. For some, the elder Bush and Clinton administrations successfully built a post-Cold War system centered on markets, expanded international cooperation, and the United States' indispensable leadership. For others, the 1990s were a "lost decade" in which a distracted Bill Clinton failed to craft a coherent grand strategy or anticipate the dangers of the coming terrorist era. This splendidly illuminating book chronicles the ups and downs in U.S. diplomacy during these years, providing a nuanced portrait that offers support to both positions. The authors begin their analysis with the first Bush administration's debating how to handle the new windfall of U.S. power in the wake of the Soviet collapse and then follow the early misadventures of the Clinton administration in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia -- and the subsequent successes of the Dayton accords and the war in Kosovo. The overall picture is of a triumphant but slightly bewildered superpower struggling to make its way in a strange new world. The book's most interesting argument is about the surprising continuity that marks the Clinton and George W. Bush years, particularly in fashioning a vision of U.S. interventionism. This book will become the standard account of U.S. foreign policy in the first decade after the Cold War.