“Wrong assumptions, immoderate and confused ends, served by a mixture of counterproductive, inadequate, mismanaged, and, at times, scandalous means”: Stanley Hoffmann’s verdict on the US invasion of Iraq carries an uneasy echo of his view of the US failure in Vietnam.
Though it is not Vietnam, for Hoffmann the Iraq war is still a sign that America has gone in the wrong direction. In this book, he describes the many ways in which the Bush administration, particularly in its unilateralist determination to make war on Saddam Hussein, has undertaken a “wrecking operation” on post—World War II schemes of international cooperation, and he suggests a process by which democracies might reach agreement on when to collectively intervene in aid of nations suffering under oppressive regimes.
Hoffmann goes on to analyze how the US risks being trapped in Iraq, and offers his ideas on the most effective strategies for both withdrawing US forces and helping the country achieve democracy and stability under multilateral supervision.
“Too often,” he finds, “this administration has given, to many Americans and even more to foreigners, the impression that it is drunk with power….” If we are to combat terrorism effectively, we should strive not for an arrogant American empire but for “a return to reality, to good sense, and to morality.”