Ikenberry Considers Our “Security Trap”

In case you missed it John Ikenberry has a twopart, lengthy post on the endemic security problems that stem from an inversion of the Westphalian order.

Bush foreign policy is failing – but it is important to come to grips with why it is failing. To be sure, it is failing because Bush stumbled into an epic disaster in Iraq. But the problems are not just about policy incompetence, ideological blindness, or high risk policy choices gone bad. I would argue that Bush foreign policy is failing – in the large sense – because it is inconsistent with the realities of a transforming international system that shapes and limits the way the United States can effectively exercise power and – more importantly — assert its authority.

Because of this, the Bush administration has run into trouble, or as I would put it, it has gotten America caught in a “security trap.” It is a security trap in the sense that as the Bush administration tries to solve the nation’s security problems by exercising its power or using force, it tends to produce resistance and backlash that leaves the country more isolated, bereft of authority, and, ultimately, insecure.

The problem is that when liberals take over the reins of foreign policy, they too will fall into this trap unless they understand the problem and devise a grand strategy that works with rather than against these evolving global realities.