America unbound: the Bush revolution in foreign policy

Tony Blair and George Bush

A review by John Williams

America unbound The Bush revolution in foreign policy. Ivo H.Daalder & James M. Lindsay. Published by the Brookings Institute Press (2003)

The purpose of Ivo H.Daalder & James M.. Lindsay’s book is to demonstrate that President George Bush’s foreign policy is revolutionary, a foreign policy unique to himself. Comforting though it might be to Atlanticists, supporting the assumption that Bush is the exception proving the rule of Atlanticist harmony in the final analysis, the case gets increasingly questionable. Hence their introduction, stating that the Iraq war vindicated Bush, is a hostage to the book’s fortune.

Ivo H.Daalder & James M. Lindsay’s case rests on the assumption that Bush’s foreign policy beliefs – essentially post-cold-war beliefs – are of greater significance than his knowledge of foreign policy. Unlike Bill Clinton, equally lacking in foreign policy knowledge, Bush gives the impression of foreign policy incoherence, an impression that they argue to be contrary to reality. According to this analysis, Bush’s foreign policy assumes United States global hegemony. Such an assumption places the role of nation-states over and above that of international institutions in the conduct of international affairs, an international relations precept clashing with Tony Blair’s conception of international relations.

This book’s conclusion is that Bush’s foreign policy revolutionary lies in Bush’s use of such hegemonic power. It is a conclusion the authors qualify by observing that hegemonic power’s dependency upon international co-operation. They do so, however, by accusing the international community of mistaking Bush’s beliefs for his rhetoric. The accusation, revealing the authors’ instinctive empathy with Bush, places the book in an appropriate context for European readers.

This article was contributed by John Williams, member of the Federal Union committee, who may be contacted at [email protected]. The opinions expressed at those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union.

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