ABSTRACT

Permanent war was maintained in the 1990s not because the United States itself continued to be threatened by foreign enemies, but because American policy-makers came to identify the unipolar structure of the system, and America's place in it, as the object of defence. The Cold War had expanded the American state, leaving a more powerful presidency, a more secretive government and less constraining Congress. The Global War on Terror was in many ways a strategic concept explicitly constructed to fill the vacuum that anti-communist containment had left during the 1990s. The Barack Obama administration's relative reticence when it comes to the direct application of American military force may have avoided getting the United States into any more 'dumb wars' - so far. Obama's election was made possible by the financial crisis of 2008, a crisis that made America's leaders appear feckless and the United States's political and economic model inoperative.