"The Bush Doctrine: Did America Change, or Did the World Change?"
Annual Conference on Global Issues
Manchester Community College
Manchester, CT
25 October 2003


I. Three phases of American foreign policy

A. Isolationism

Washington's Farewell Address, 1796
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

B. Multilateralism

1. Roosevelt's multilateralism

Sumner Welles's Speech in 1942
The people of the United States were offered at the conclusion of the last war the realization of a great vision. They were offered the opportunity of sharing in the assumption of responsibility for the maintenance of peace in the world by participating in an international organization designed to prevent and to quell the outbreak of war. That opportunity they rejected. They rejected it in part because of the human tendency after a great upsurge of emotional idealism to seek the relapse into what was once termed "normalcy." They rejected it because of partisan politis. They rejected it because of the false propaganda, widely spread, that by our participation in a world order we would incur the danger of was rather than avoid it. They rejected it because of unenlightened selfishness.

2. Truman's multilateralism

C. Multilateralism Lite

1. Bush 1-Gulf War
2. Clinton

David Halberstam, War in a Time of Peace, 2001
The country, to be blunt, was more powerful and more influential than ever before, but it was looking inward. It was the most schizophrenic of nations, a monopoly superpower that did not want to be an imperial power, and whose soul, except in financial and economic matters, seemed to be more and more isolationist.

3. Bush as candidate and in the first few months

a. Kyoto
b. ABM
c. International Criminal Court
d. Biological Weapons protocol

D. Unilateralism-Bush Doctrine, post 9/11

II. Three characteristics of the Bush Doctrine

A. Pre-emption

National Security Strategy of the United States, 20 September 2002
And as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed. We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. So we must be prepared to defeat out enemies' plans, suing the best intelligence and proceeding with deliberation. History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action.

B. Strategic Superiority

National Security Strategy of the United States, 20 September 2002
We know from history that deterrence an fail; and we know from experience that some enemies cannot be deterred. The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy-whether a state or non-state actor-to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends. We will maintain the forces sufficient to support our obligation, and to defend freedom. Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.

C. Unilateralism

Cheney's Speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, 16 February 2002
Many nations throughout the West, in Asia and in the Islamic world are joined with us in a broad coalition against terror. The response we've seen is a model for diplomatic and military cooperation in the face of common danger….America has friends and allies in this cause, but only we can lead it. Only we can rally the world in a task of this complexity against an enemy so elusive and so resourceful. The United States and only the United States can see this effort through to victory.

III. Was it because of 11 September?

A. Terrorism not new

1. No mention of Iraq until 29 January 2002
2. Tenuousness of the evidence of an "imminent" attack

B. Previous positions of Bush Administration officials

Draft of the 1992 "Defense Policy Guidance" written by Paul Wolfowitz
Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival…we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role….The US should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies formed to deal with a particular crisis and which may not outlive the resolution of the crisis…The US should be postures to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated.

IV. Is there a historical analog?

A. Woodrow Wilson and Bush statements

Woodrow Wilson, "Peace Without Victory," 1917
These are American principles, American policies. We could stand for no others. And they are also the principles and policies of forward looking men and women everywhere, of every modern nation, of every enlightened community. They are the principles of mankind and must prevail.

George Bush, State of the Union Address, 29 January 2002
America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere.
No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have intention of imposing our culture. But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance.

B. In foreign policy, it is not good vs. evil. The interests of the country should be the paramount concern.