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Research Report

Bush’s legacy and America’s next foreign policy

Marcin Zaborowski
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2008
Pages: 131
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 17-42)

    George W. Bush is generally viewed as being a highly ideological president bent on implementing even the most unpopular and controversial of ideas. However, where Bush fits in with regard to American foreign policy traditions is a matter of dispute. During his 2000 campaign and in the first eight months of his presidency (before the tragedy of 9/11) Bush was viewed as a hard-headed realist – cautious about diplomatic and military engagement, sceptical about nation-building, unsentimental in his foreign policy decisions and an instinctive unilateralist. Towards the end of his first term, pundits started to describe Bush’s foreign policy as...

  2. (pp. 43-60)

    George W. Bush will be remembered first and foremost for starting the war in Iraq and the destabilisation of the country that ensued. Despite the success of the ‘surge’ policy, which Bush adopted in the wake of the Congressional elections won by the Democrats in November 2006, the situation in Iraq is still extremely grim and the political process there is fragile. Before the ‘surge’ was adopted thousands of people were being killed every month, four million Iraqis had left the country and the economy had totally stagnated. America’s regional adversary, Iran, has been strengthened and its allies, moderate Sunni...

  3. (pp. 61-82)

    Over four months after al-Qaeda’s attack on the US, President Bush delivered his first ever State of the Union address, which became known as the ‘axis of evil’ speech. The President’s address was the first indication that the US’s response to 9/11 would not be limited to battling al-Qaeda and its associates. The US was about to embark on a course to change the status quo in the Middle East and possibly even in East Asia. The first and, as it turned out, the last victim of this revolutionary approach was Iraq. But the President also referred to Iran and...

  4. (pp. 83-104)

    The conventional view of Bush’s China policy is that at the beginning of his presidency he pursued a hawkish approach but that this changed following the events of 9/11. In effect, rather than being a rival, China became America’s ally in the war on terror.121 This view is not incorrect but it requires certain qualifications. George W. Bush was not alone in preaching a tougher stance on China during the elections and at the outset of his presidency, only to then settle on the continuation of the policies of his predecessors. The same was true of Ronald Reagan who argued...

  5. (pp. 105-126)

    Bush’s presidency is not likely to be noted by the history books as a successful one but there is no doubt that it will be remembered as a watershed in America’s grand strategy and its relations with the world. The terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 changed the parameters of America’s strategic thinking in much the same way that Pearl Harbour did in 1941. Bush responded to this challenge in a radical and, by most accounts, incompetent way. The failure to capture Osama bin Laden and marginalise the Taliban in Afghanistan, the instability in Iraq and the loss of America’s...