The Legacy of George W. Bush's Foreign Policy: Moving beyond Neoconservatism

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This volume incisively analyzes the foreign policy of George W. Bush. Examining the legacy of the forty-third President, author Ilan Peleg explains the complex factors underlying the Bush Doctrine: neoconservative ideology, real and perceived challenges to US world supremacy, Bush’s personality, the White House’s unique decision-making process, and the impact of September 11. Peleg argues that in its shift from deterrence and containment to prevention and preemption, from multilateral leadership to unilateral militarism, and from consensual realism to radical neoconservatism, the Bush administration has effected a true revolution in the foundational goals, as well as in the means, of US foreign policy.

Peleg also offers a series of judicious recommendations for future administrations, including the reestablishment of a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, increased emphasis on multilateralism, the demilitarization of US foreign policy, renewed focus on the resolution of serious regional conflicts, and more realistic expectations about noncoerced democratization around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Despite its title, this book focuses more on the philosophy and personalities that shaped the Bush administration's foreign policy than on the consequences of those policies for future administrations. Labeling Bush's foreign policy "revolutionary" in its neoconservative aspirations, Peleg (Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza ) sees the administration as breaking decisively from the philosophical orientation of previous post-cold war presidents. The author argues that the ascendancy of an "inexperienced and unknowledgeable" Bush, with the influential neoconservative Cheney at his side, led to this ideological turn, encapsulated in the strategic vision of the Bush Doctrine. Approaching Bush's foreign policy through the frame of the buildup to and aftermath of the Iraq War, Peleg draws on secondary sources to condemn Bush personally and explicitly for many of the failures of his administration, arguing the president lacked basic knowledge of and interest in foreign affairs, and labeling him arrogant and inflexible. Though the book has a straightforward structure, it sometimes feels like a repetitive retread before Peleg offers constructive strategic recommendations in its closing pages. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813344461
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ilan Peleg is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Government and Law at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He is the editor-in-chief of Israel Studies Forum and author of several books, including the award-winning Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza (1995) and the acclaimed Democratizing the Hegemonic State (2007).

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1 The Bush Legacy: Controversial Policy and Uncertain Future 1

The Legacy, 5

Disastrous Consequences?, 10

Uncertain Future, 15

Chapter 2 The Challenge to America and the World 19

The Post-Cold War Challenge: Alternative Responses to Uncertainty, 20

The Challenge of September 11: The Temptation of an Uberpower, 30

Bush's Doctrinal Innovations: Farewell to Realism, 36

Chapter 3 The Neoconservative Revolution: The Ideological Infrastructure of the Bush Doctrine 45

The Principles of Neoconservatism: Different Perspectives, 48

Neoconservatism: An Analytical Approach, 51

Assessing the Neoconservative Paradigm, 71

Chapter 4 The Personality of George W. Bush 75

Bush's Unique Historical Challenge, 77

Classifying Bush, 78

Knowledge, Experience, and Interest, 83

Evangelical Manichean Radicalism, 87

Nationalist Conflictual Pessimism, 91

Lack of Openness and Flexibility, 92

Arrogance, 93

Instinct, 95

Assessing the Impact, 96

Chapter 5 The Decision-Making Process 99

Alternative Models and Personality/Ideological Thesis, 99

Circles of Decision Making in the Bush Administration, 104

The Decision-Making Unit, 105

The Bureaucracy, 114

The Political Class, 122

American and World Public Opinion, 125

Chapter 6 Lessons for Future Presidents: America and the World Beyond Bush and Neoconservatism 127

Neoconservatism Under the Microscope for a Better Future, 130

A New Grand Strategy for America and the World, 140

Toward a Better Future?, 151

Notes 155

References 177

Index 195

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