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The Imperial Temptation: The New World Order and America's Purpose Paperback – July 1, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A polemic harshly critical of the Bush Administration's ``New World Order'' for the post-cold-war era. Tucker (American Foreign Policy/Johns Hopkins Univ.) and Hendrickson (Political Science/Colorado College) propose that the end of the cold war has, ironically, led the US to feel far freer to use its awesome military might than in the days of balance of power between the Soviet Union and America. The authors contend that the Soviet Union's disintegration has removed the major threat to our nation's security, and they are alarmed by what they see as the Bush Administration's eagerness to use armed force rather than diplomacy to solve world crises. Tucker and Hendrickson score Bush for having waged war against Iraq rather than continuing sanctions, and they further argue that, once the US was committed to battle, Saddam Hussein should have been ousted from power. Excoriating the notion of ``preventive war,'' the two political scientists interpret Bush's alleged bellicosity as a threat to the ``soul'' of America and the democratic ideals established by the Founding Fathers. They conclude that America needs to return to these original ideals. Tucker and Hendrickson write in an easy, cogent style rare among political scientists, but their idealism may overrun their pragmatism in applying to today's nuclear world principles elaborated in a simpler, safer time. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert W. Tucker is Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

David C. Hendricksonis Associate Professor of Political Science at Colorado College. They have previously co-authored The Fall of the First British Empire: Origins of the War of American Independence and Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876091168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876091166
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,084,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Earth that Was on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yogi Berra is reputed to have said "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

Foreign policy academic Robert W Tucker's analysis of Gulf War 1, written in 1992, seems to have successfully anticipated the foreign policy strife that engulfed America from 2001. All the usually listed sore points of Bush II foreign policy were, as Tucker shows, clearly on display under Bush I. Tucker delivered a powerful (and obviously unheeded) warning of the dangers of unilateralism, preventive war, exploding national debt and disregard for the responsibilities of victors. All this whilst Bush I was still celebrating his Kuwait triumph. As Tucker's account illustrates, both administrations were fully prepared to operate with or without, the optional fig leaf of UN approval. In this Bush I was essentially "luckier" than Bush II. Perhaps for the other Security Council powers that weren't ready to sign up with Bush II, it was simply a case of once bitten, twice shy.

After reading Tucker it is impossible maintain that Bush II was some kind of "wayward son" unwilling to follow good fatherly example. Following dad's footsteps may have been the way to failure. Bush I's dishonourable call for a popular uprising against Saddam Hussein and then leaving the Kurd and Shi'ite rebels to suffer the tyrant's revenge seems echoed in Operation Iraqi Freedom's lopsided priorities, guarding the oil ministry while looters plundered Baghdad. Tucker's book weakens the case that the Bush II "neocons" were wholly to blame - whist Bush I "realists" were blameless. In fact their differences are of degree, not of kind. There is blame enough for both.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By International Relations Student on November 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Tucker and Hendrickson effectively communicate a criticism of American foreign policy during the Bush Administration. The book is interesting, readable and appropriate for any political science student interested in American foreign policy after the cold war. The arguments are well presented for the most part, but some are problematic. For example, the authors contend that NATO was established as a collective security stating that "NATO, however, was a pure application of collective security: `It is directed against no one; it is directed solely against aggression.'"(65) While the statement in and of itself may have occurred in practice, the organization itself was designed to combat the spread of Communism, not aggression. In The Imperial Temptation, the authors evaluate the foreign policy of an administration based on a single event: the gulf war. Although this event may be characteristic of the administration, not enough evidence is presented to support that assertion. The Imperial Temptation is a valuable book for the curious and/or critical political science student interested in varying views regarding post-cold war American foreign policy, or simply the gulf war itself. It is an interesting book, and a fairly easy reader on American foreign policy after the cold war.
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By John G. Hilliard on February 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book covers the first Bush administration and the foreign policy decisions they took around the end of the cold war and the Gulf war. The book covers the authors views as to what the U.S. should and should not do as far as aggression across the globe. I must say that I found this book more interesting reading it now, after the second Bush's first term and the Iraqi war. There were so many parallels in what the authors are concerned about and what has taken place over the past four years that one would have thought the book was written in 2004 and not 1992. Basically, the authors felt that the fist Bush administration was too eager to send the military off to do the job that the diplomats should have been doing. An interesting view given that most people view the first President Bush as one of the stronger Presidents in the area of Foreign Policy and diplomacy that we have had over the past few decade's.

Given the climate today the authors took some rather interesting positions that today would be met with a mixture of contempt and adoration from both sides of the political isle. They are dead set against preemptive war and want the U.S. to fall back to more of a isolationist position, at least in regard to military action. They argue that this is keeping with what the countries founding fathers would have done. They also think the UN should be the body used to work through these type of international disputes. But in a fit or either hard edged pragmatism or just plain ruthlessness, the authors argue that once we were engaged in the Gulf war the only logical outcome was to go all the way to Baghdad and oust Saddam.

Overall the book is interesting and presents its arguments is a well thought out and calm if not cautious way.
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