Essay on Bush Doctrine
The first article, “Bush's Bold Grand Strategy and Mixed Performance” by John Lewis Gaddis, is clever and points out key features of the Bush administration’s actions that may be indicative of underlying motives on the part of the President. At first, I felt that there simply wasn't enough support for this in the documents, but that it may very well be true. Then Gaddis mentioned that Bush only once used the term “Axis of Evil,” and that this was perhaps over zealousness on the part of his speech writers. This is true, nowhere in the following documents can I find mention of the Axis, and usually when politicians put a name like that to something they like to use it over and over to drive a point home. Terms like these become catch phrases that people associate with an era, but Bush let this one go. That alone is evidence of something more complicated underlying his motives than what is apparent on the surface.
Gaddis proposes that no one reason for going to Iraq is the right one; that it was not about oil, or terrorists, or tyrants, but it was about bringing the middle east into the modern world. Gaddis likens this undertaking to the democratizing of Japan or Germany following World War II. And this makes sense, except there was no war that gave America an excuse to bring democracy to the middle east. There was no war to promote change. So under the pretenses of national security and liberating the Iraqi people, the Bush administration launched a war that would allow them to reshape a country at the very heart of the middle east. French President Jacques Chirac (Document 5) demonstrates his position that no country can live in isolation in the modern world and that the United Nations must be willing to promote the “universality of treaties.” It would seem the French President at the time agreed that free nations had the right and duty to impose certain of their standards on non-free ones. This backs up Gaddis's point that change was in the works for the middle east by western powers.
Gaddis goes on to explain that the reason the Bush administration went ahead with the war despite Saddam complying with the UN inspectors was to intimidate any terrorists group that might threaten the United States. Gaddis likens the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to well selected dominoes that are to start a chain reaction of shock and awe among terrorists groups. In documents one and two, Bush says in no uncertain terms that any who are not with America are with the terrorists, that the ambitions of the war are not simply to take out the faction that attacked America but to wipe out all terrorists groups wherever they may be found, that America will enter countries to find these groups whether permitted or not, and that this will be a war of attrition involving ground troops. Bush was saying that this will be a long fight, America will not back down, and anyone standing in the way will be destroyed. This certainly sounds like intimidation, and backs Gaddis's belief that Bush's main goal is to frighten the opposition into submission.
Gaddis's final point, that federalism is really what America wants for the world, is backed up in document five once again by the French President. Federalism offers more of a multilateral approach that allows nations to come to democracy in their own time but still assures global security in the meantime. President Chirac demonstrates this in his willingness to use force to take Iraq but in his constant reiteration of the UN's achievements and the good things that it can and will do for the world. Though force can be taken when necessary, diplomacy is ultimately more preferable.
Gaddis's point of view is difficult to discern at first. Though the essay clearly demonstrates how the actions of the Bush administration failed to meet their goals, it does not come off like most anti-war writings. Gaddis seems to admire the strategy behind Bush's plan and mourn the fact that it did not pan out, rather than say that it was a bad idea from the beginning. The reason for this does not become clear until after reading the second essay, “Bush's Ideological Excess and Scandalous Incompetence,” by George C. Herring in which he quotes Gaddis as having called Bush Doctrine a “truly grand strategy” and saying the “world must be made safe for democracy because otherwise democracy will not be safe in the world.” It would seem, according to Herring, that Gaddis was once a big supporter of Bush Doctrine. This casts Gaddis's essay in a new light. He is trying to explain the reasons that a perfectly reasonable plan did not pan out.
Herring asserts that the Bush administration before 9/11 had been floundering and the disaster gave it purpose. Rather than reacting in a new way to this new threat, Bush chose war which was familiar to the American public and in fact reassuring. The second fact at least can be backed up by Bush's own words in his address made immediately following the attacks. Bush explained that the war on terror would not be like any ones before it. War calls up images of nation invading nation and of planes dropping bombs. But this new war was not as simple as ones previously fought. It almost seems that Bush was saying that this is not really a war at but rather an ongoing policing of the world. This is ground for Herring's argument that the war is only called so because it is familiar and reassuring to the American people. Herring calls this an “analogue of war.”
Herring presses his point by explaining that Bush then connected the war on terror with nuclear proliferation. The picture Herring seems to be painting is of an administration using old Cold War buzzwords to help usher in their new lexicon of terror buzzwords. This point is backed up clearly in document three, the very speech that Herring is referring to in this part of his essay. Furthermore, in document one, Bush likened the new terrorist threat to “fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism.” It is clear that Bush wanted people to understand the seriousness of what it was America was fighting, even if they could not entirely grasp the medium in which the war would be fought.
The essays both give interesting points of view on the war on terror. Both are almost identical in the facts they present and the points they make, but are complete opposites in tone. One is a reason for why a good plan failed and the other for why a bad plan could have never worked. The fact that they share so many facts and differ only on how these facts were interpreted shows that the authors did thorough and unbiased research. The two essays work together to provide a very vivid break down of Bush Doctrine, its inaction, and its ultimate failure thus far.