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The Illusion of Control

Force and Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

By Seyom Brown
illusionofcontrol

This provocative book assesses the implications of a disturbing trend in U.S. security policy: an increased willingness to use military force as an instrument of diplomacy. In The Illusion of Control, Seyom Brown shows how U.S. officials are relying on force to counter a wide range of threats to America’s global interests—eclipsing previous strategies that restricted the use of military force to situations in which the country’s vital interests were at stake. Brown points out that a disposition to employ military power broadly as an instrument of diplomacy was on the rise well before September 11, 2001— and it shows every sign of persisting into the future. While resorting to force may seem to be a reliable way to establish control over a disorderly world, Brown cautions that expecting to gain and maintain control through military prowess could turn out to be a dangerous illusion. In fact, employing new military technologies in an effort to control international terrorist activities, wars, and civil conflicts is likely to pull the United States into excessive commitments and imprudent action. Brown analyzes the growing willingness of U.S. government officials to use force, then critically assesses the strategic, political, and moral implications for the United States. Adapting traditional “just war” concepts to contemporary strategic, political, and technological realities, he offers a set of guidelines to help ensure that use-of-force decisions are approached with the judicious care and gravity they warrant.

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