The passing of the Cold War is the most important development of the late 20th century, yet the United States clings tenaciously to old policies. Both the Bush administration and Democratic leaders have insisted on perpetuating a host of obsolete alliances, including NATO and the alliance with Japan, which cost American taxpayers nearly $150 billion a year. Ted Galen Carpenter offers a provocative critique of that status quo strategy.
Although Washington's outdated alliances have no real adversary or credible mission, Carpenter says, they hold the potential to embroil the United States in obscure conflicts, ethnic and otherwise, that have little relevance to America's legitimate security concerns. As an alternative, he proposes "strategic independence," under which the United States would act only to defend vital interests -- the republic's physical integrity, political independence, or domestic liberty.
Carpenter calls for "the foreign policy equivalent of zero-based budgeting," insisting that because of the dramatic changes in the world caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, "all alliances must be justified anew, regardless of any utility they may have had during the Cold War." He places under the microscope America's multilateral treaty obligations to defend other nations -- NATO, ANZUS, which links the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and the Rio Treaty, which provides a collective defense arrangement for the Western Hemisphere. He also examines four important bilateral security agreements -- with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Pakistan. This is the book on a new foreign policy for the United States.