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In the Shadow of the Cold War: American Foreign Policy from George Bush Sr. to Donald Trump, Timothy J. Lynch

Reviewed by Richard Immerman



The most apparent feature of Timothy J. Lynch’s exploration of post–Cold War U.S. foreign policies is how conventional it is. In the Shadow of the Cold War proceeds chronologically from the George H.W. Bush to the Donald Trump administrations, sketching their worldwide policies. It draws exclusively on official government sources and memoirs, journalistic reporting, and the secondary literature. Further, although Lynch teaches at the University of Melbourne, his is a narrowly Washington-centric story. The sole nonstate actors included are the usual suspects—terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Nongovernmental organizations barely warrant a mention.

Yet from an interpretive standpoint, In the Shadow of the Cold War is unconventional. While there is little uniformity in assessments of post–Cold War U.S. foreign policy, and Lynch finds much to criticize, he casts his overall evaluation as more positive than most scholars do. In his “sympathetically critical eye” (p. 2), the United States remains the indispensable nation, and it has manifested more empathy, flexibility, pragmatism, and foresight than the conventional wisdom attributes to it. Thus, notwithstanding bursts of anti-Americanism, it has retained global popularity and global power. The end of the Cold War and the terrorist at

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