Reconciling Internal Rights and External Wrongs: The Force of Arms and Ideas in War (Case Study #13)


January 1, 1991

In this case study, the author confronts the question of "American purpose" in light of the Gulf War. Will the United States continue to be the world's policeman (occasionally under the auspices of the United Nations), and how will it determine what is a violation of its interests and what is not?

Also raised by Russell is the issue of what Americans deem worth killing and dying for. The term "new world order" is in fact a product of the Bush administration's ruminations and rationalizations about the war.

In answering the question "why we fight," the reasons given varied: oil, jobs, and the balance of power in a vital geopolitical area were tried first. These reasons were not nearly as well received as the need to stop aggression, stand against appeasement, enforce collective security, and keep humanitarian obligations to the ravaged Kuwaitis. It was these latter claims that lent themselves to the argument that we intervene because it is "moral, just, and right."

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