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Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy Colin Dueck Princeton and Oxford: Princeton

University Press, 2006. 224pp, $29.97 (ISBN-10 0691124639) Published in International Journal, 63, 1 (2007-2008), 221-225. The United States responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by embarking on an expansive global war against terrorism. This has resulted in, among other things, the promulgation of the Bush Doctrine on pre-emptive and preventive wars, the renewed willingness to project American primacy to democratize the Middle East, the military invasion and reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the infusion of significant financial and material resources into all areas of national security, including the often neglected domain of homeland security. It is difficult to deny the scope and sheer ambition of this approach to strategic affairs. Potential near-peer rivals are to be dissuaded from even contemplating military competition. An aggressive counter-terrorist and counter-proliferation campaign will meanwhile contain, mitigate and/or eliminate the threat posed by global terrorist organizations, rogue state adversaries and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Commentators have either applauded or decried these unapologetically unilateral policies. But few have thought to question the revolutionary basis of the Bush administrations grand strategy. And fewer still have written accounts that provide an adequate explanation for this particular case of strategic adjustment or to situate it within the larger debate on American grand strategy. In Reluctant Crusader, Colin Dueck has done an admirable job at filling in some of the more noticeable theoretical and empirical gaps in the grand strategy literature. The first quarter of the book provides a conceptual basis for understanding grand strategy. The following chapters use a process-tracing method to test this explanatory model against four cases of American strategic adjustment the periods following World War I, World War II, the Cold War and the 9/11 attacks. A central theme of the book is that the resultant grand strategy is neither foreordained by strategic culture nor entirely dependent on structural conditions. The first chapter settles on a definition of grand strategy as calculated relationship of ends and means (10) that involves the identification and prioritization of national interests, potential threats and resources and/or means to meet these threats. This definition constitutes a valuable if uncontroversial understanding of grand strategy as a conceptual road map and a set of policy prescriptions (11). Strategic adjustments or instances of fundamental first-order shifts in grand strategy can be empirically measured and verified by changes in strategic capabilities and commitments. Dueck is clearly unsatisfied with the debate between culture- and power-based explanations for strategic adjustment, and offers a more flexible explanatory model that is open to domestic and ideational factors and is firmly rooted in the more holistic ontology of neoclassical realist theory. Duecks identifies two persistent features of US strategic thinking. Liberalism is associated with the crusading desire to spread democratic ideas and governments. The Iraq War, with its explicit goal of military-imposed democratization, is one the most recent and perhaps aggressive examples of this liberal crusade. Limited liability, in contrast, refers to the culturally shaped

preference for avoiding costs and commitments in grand strategy (26). The ambition of liberalism is therefore balanced by an equal emphasis on limited means, which was clearly demonstrated by the abject American failure to allocate sufficient resources for the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq. The following chapters and conclusion test the neo-classical realist explanatory model against four instances of US strategic adjustment. Structural conditions provide an important starting point for any explanation of grand strategy. Material capabilities clearly delimit and ultimately constrain the states strategic choices. But cultural factors are also shown to be an important filter or permissive cause that helps to specify and explain the final choices made by foreign policymakers (19). Chapter three deals with the failure of President Wilsons overly ambitious League of Nations strategy, which sought to leverage incipient American hegemony to develop a preponderance of power on the part of democratic states (53). Dueck correctly identifies the difficulties with structural realist explanations of the US disengagement from Europe. He also does an excellent job at disentangling the competing cultural tendencies that made the League of Nations such an ambitious if ultimately unsuccessful attempt at collective security. But perhaps the most insightful comment is on the hypothetical alliance with Britain and France that, while ideal from a realist perspective, would prove to be largely incompatible with American strategic culture. In chapter four, Dueck challenges the notion that a containment grand strategy was the inevitable outcome of structural conditions after World War II. True, strategic preponderance did all but assure the US rejection of a neo-isolationist grand strategy. And limitations of American power in the face of Soviet strategic depth did make rollback an equally infeasible option. Dueck, however, goes on to describe an alternative sphere of influence option this would entail the American acceptance of the Soviet political system and predominance in Eastern Europe. Containment may have eventually resulted in de facto spheres of influence, but it also involved an aggressive liberal impulse to transform the Soviet system and a fervent anticommunist stand that obviated the need for diplomacy. Yet Dueck is also quick to explain that the sphere of influence option was rejected on largely cultural grounds. The United States simply could not accept a closed Soviet sphere in Eastern Europe that was subject to an unusually invasive form of imperial control (95). Such cold realist logic was considered anathema to American strategic planners. As Dueck notes, Containment was selectedbecause it was the only strategy that matched international conditions as well as domestic cultural concerns (113). The fifth chapter examines American strategic adjustment in the post-Cold War period. Dueck begins by outlining four strategic choices for American planners. Strategic disengagement entails a significant American retrenchment from the world, while balance of power seeks to support a geopolitical balance between the major powers (117). Both options are rooted in realist theory and, with their emphasis on scarce American strategic power, are keen to adopt a limited liability approach to strategic affairs. In contrast, liberal internationalism openly seeks the expansion of an Americanized and multilateral world order. The fourth strategic choice,

primacy, combines the ambitions and goals of liberalism with the more pessimist and securityconscious outlook of realism. This typology of grand strategy options is heavily indebted to an insightful article by Barry Posen and Andrew Ross (Competing Visions for US Grand Strategy, International Security, 21, 3 1996/97). However, Dueck offers an important and complementary contribution by seeking to explain, and not simply to describe, the resultant American grand strategy. Cultural factors played a particularly strong role in shaping the Clinton administrations choice of liberal internationalism. Liberalism may have informed the Clinton administrations globalist engagement and enlargement agenda, but it was concerns over limited liability that resulted in shrinking international expenditure and the penchant for half-hearted use of military force in places like Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan. The book closes with a brief overview of the current American grand strategy. The 9/11 attacks, while not necessitating any particular grand strategy, did create a window of opportunity for neo-conservatives to build support for a new strategy of American primacy (153). This strategic option was imbued with an attractive dose of liberalism and was no longer as constrained by pre-9/11 considerations of limited liability. Indeed, Dueck makes clear that neither strategic disengagement nor balance of power is likely to match the structural and cultural criteria for a suitable grand strategy. As the author somberly concludes, the US will likely oscillate between various forms of globalism, and to press for a more open and democratic international system without willing the means to sustain it (170) Dueck is an astute observer of strategic affairs, and he clearly touches upon the fundamental dilemma facing US grand strategy that disproportionately limited means will be used to pursue overly ambitious liberal goals. The books steady theoretical argumentation and well documented case studies nicely illustrate this American strategic dilemma. To be sure, the book would benefit from a more clearly delineated selection of strategic options. The strong similarity between primacy and liberal internationalism raises questions on the true extent of post-Cold War strategic adjustments. The relationship between the cases and grand strategy options themselves could have also been further clarified. Yet these criticisms are very minor indeed to an otherwise worthy addition to the grand strategy literature. Reluctant Crusaders serves as a very useful reminder that strategic adjustments may require a severe exogenous shock like 9/11 to open American decision-makers to new strategic ideas. The US presidential election in 2008, while raising the possibility of a significant strategic shift, could easily (and more likely) result in second-order changes that leave current strategic commitments largely untouched. If so, future US administrations would do well to heed Colin Duecks warning that To pursue a global grand strategy without providing the means military, political, and economic for it is to invite not only humiliation, but disaster (171). David S. McDonough/Dalhousie University