Seven Tests: Between Concert and Unilateralism

How to decide when unilateralism makes sense even within a multilateral framework.

Issue: Winter 2001-2002

American foreign policy has changed dramatically since September 11, 2001. Priorities have been altered, several important bilateral relationships recast and, not least, the general tone of the still-new Bush Administration toward multilateral diplomacy has softened. In the President's words, "Just as Pearl Harbor awakened this country from the notion that we could somehow avoid the call of duty and defend freedom in Europe and Asia in World War II, so, too, should this most recent surprise attack erase the concept in some quarters that America can somehow go it alone in the fight against terrorism or in anything else for that matter." This new tone goes well beyond the White House. The State and Defense Departments, each in their own way, recognize the need to build coalitions. The Treasury, which had earlier rejected international cooperation on money laundering tax havens, rapidly became a proponent of cooperation.

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