NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

American Unilateralism

December 20, 2001

Multilateralism is the foreign policy concept popular in Europe and the Clinton state department that western nations must act in concert when it comes to security issues. In Kosovo, says columnist Charles Krauthammer, multilateralism meant giving 18 countries (the members of NATO) veto power over bombing targets.

A competing vision, espoused by Reagan and now by George Bush, is unilateralism.

  • Last week, President Bush unilaterally withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and, thus, from all of its absurd restrictions on ABM defenses and technology.
  • Like Ronald Reagan at the famous 1986 Reykjavik summit, at which he wouldn't give up the Strategic Defense Initiative to Mikhail Gorbachev, Bush refused to lock the United States into any deal that would prevent us from building ABM defenses.
  • Bush also refuses to abide by the multilateral Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, and summarily rejects the "enforcement provisions" of the multilateral biological weapons treaty to which Iraq is a signatory.
  • And although pundits and Democrats proclaimed that Sept. 11 necessitated the end to unilateral action, decisive action by the U.S. and its willing allies -- ignoring the objections of any uninvolved nations -- has proved them wrong.

The result: Taliban destroyed. Al-Qaeda on the run. European cooperation on prosecutions. Muted anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric, even among Arab states. Success in Afghanistan.

Source: Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post), "Unilateralism remains centerpiece of Bush strategy, Dallas Morning News, December 16, 2001.


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