Politics, media and war: 9/11 and its aftermaths
Politics, media and war: 9/11 and its aftermaths

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5.5 The US’s legitimacy crisis

Robert Kagan is a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a member of the US Council on Foreign Relations, and foreign policy adviser to the Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

In his view, the widespread perceptions of the lack of US wisdom regarding the invasion of Iraq has led to a general weakening of US legitimacy in the international arena. The nature and outcome of weakening US legitimacy are analysed by Kagan in ‘America’s crisis of legitimacy’.

Activity 15 America’s crisis of legitimacy

Read Kagan’s article [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] now. (Concentrate on the sections ‘Clashing views’ (p2–3), ‘Three pillars’ (p3–4) and ‘The importance of being legitimate’ (p14–16).) As you read, take some notes on:

  • the importance of legitimacy issues and where the problems that surround them come from
  • Kagan’s three reasons why the end of the Cold War has affected America’s legitimacy with its European allies
  • the ways in which the US might counter its legitimacy deficit.

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