Nine days after the events of September 11, when President Bush laid out the grounds and directions of the U.S. response to terrorism in a speech to a joint session of Congress, he declared that this is “not . . . just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight.” Those important words were subsequently reinforced by other statements and actions of the U.S. government, as well as by other governments and international organizations, such as the United Nations.
Nevertheless, it appears that the Bush administration has not fully comprehended the depth and range of obligations that are entailed in the president’s words. The record so far indicates a deep reluctance by the U.S. to set its policy resolutely in an international context and to accept the consequences of so doing.