George W. Bush was an avid patriot and demonstrated an aggressive stance after the September 11th terrorist attacks, pledging to find those responsible. It began a significant shift in US foreign policy which would define its path for more than a decade. The ideology of patriotism and national defense was prevalent in the US society, offering support for Bush and the Republican leadership.
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After the attacks, Bush obtained a UN resolution and founded an alliance of major countries in the world in support of an attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan. After military assaults by Britain and the US, the Taliban-led government collapsed and a gruesome guerilla war began in combination with a civil war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the US abandoned its dedication to the Geneva Convention and began to use torture on captured terrorists in the attempt to find actionable intelligence on Bin Laden.
As the war in Afghanistan went on, Bush sought to expand the national policy to include his doctrine of preemption which sought to identify other countries that were supporting terrorist groups that targeted the United States. This national security strategy was utilized to justify the invasion of Iraq, which the Bush administration believed was developing weapons of mass destruction along with strongly supporting terrorist organizations such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda (Moss and Thomas 2012, 324).
The preemptive policy adopted by George Bush significantly redefined US foreign policy as pushed the first-strike doctrine as a mechanism to both deterrence of terrorist attacks and elimination of US enemies.
Bush believed the US had the right to get involved in places such as the Middle East if it felt necessary that its direct national security interests could be protected abroad. This is based on actionable intelligence of threats, both direct and indirect against the US. The US began to be perceived as militaristic throughout the world. With this doctrine, came drastic changes in both internal and external security apparatus (Stanton 173). It is also important that this national security approach affected American politics and way of life as extreme oversight was criticized in later years.
George W. Bush’s view of America’s place in the world was unprecedented. It is referred to as “Cowboy Liberalism”, a foreign policy that is based on ideological beliefs and gut instinct. There are also elements of unilateral nationalism and universalism in his approach, as he focused on competition and held an almost certain belief that he was correct (Genovese 2016). His description of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the Axis of Evil was naively simplistic and failed to represent the complexity of global politics.
Genovese, Michael A. 2016. “The Gulf: The Bush Presidencies and the Middle East.” President Studies Quarterly 46, no. 2: 480-481.
McCarty, Nolan. 2014. “What We Know and Don’t Know About Our Polarized Politics.” The Washington Post. Web.
Moss, George D., and Evan A. Thomas. 2012. Moving on: The American People Since 1945 (5th ed.). London: Pearson.
Stanton, Martin N. 2016. “’Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?’ America’s Post-Cold War Leadership and the Bush Doctrine After 9/11.” In The Bush Leadership, the Power of Ideas, and the War on Terror, edited by David B. Mcdonald, Dirk Nabers, and Robert G. Patman, 173-192. London: Routledge.