Four years after September 11, is the U.S. foreign policy the result of the political culture of the United States? And to what extend is it determined by the particularities of the current president and his administration? It may be considered that Washington is just following its political tradition. The United States has frequently chosen unilateralism when it has been forced to do it and the idealist rhetoric has often accompanied it. However, the decisions made as of September 11 do not match with this tradition.
After the attacks, the Americans would have followed the White House anywhere. After the fall of the Talibans, the United States decided to resolve an old dispute that had little to do with Al Qaeda: Iraq. By doing it, The Bush administration misused the white card given by the population and moved away its closest allies. Washington could have built an alliance among democracies to modernize the Middle East, intensify sanctions against Iraq and establish a new international system to fight against nuclear proliferation. A similar attitude would have given continuity to the traditional U.S. policy.
The policy of the Bush administration is mostly led by the neoconservatives than by the impulse of the conservative Christians. This trend is associated to what Walter Russel Mead calls “Jacksonian United States”, those nationalists who are advocates of a furious isolationism. The lack of justifications about the weapons of mass destruction and links with Al Qaeda to legitimize the war in Iraq made George W. Bush adopt an idealist speech, only neoconservative. The transformation of the “Great Middle East”, therefore, became the central axis of the U.S. foreign policy. Bush’s Jacksonian foundation, which provides most of the troops that are on service or that have died in Iraq, does not have any natural relation with such policy, but it did not want to abandon the Commander in Chief in the middle of the war. However, it is a fragile alliance.
If the Jacksonians started to think that the war could not be won, they would not support a conflict focused on promoting democracy. This would have an impact on the primary Republican elections of 2008. Therefore, everything will depend on the course of the war. The army is not prepared to face a long term insurrection. We do not know what would be the outcome of the war in Iraq. But we know that four years after September 11, the U.S. foreign policy as a whole seems to come out with glory or insignificance from a war marginally linked to what happened that day in the United States.
International Herald Tribune (France)
The International Herald Tribune is a version of the New York Times adapted for the European public. It works in direct association with Haaretz (Israel), Kathimerini (Greece), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), JoongAng Daily (South Korea), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), The Daily Star (Lebanon) and El País (Spain). It also works, through its head office, in indirect association with Le Monde (France).
Le Monde (France)
El Mundo (Spain)
New York Sun (United States)
“Invasion of the Isolationists”, by Francis Fukuyama, New York Times, August 31, 2005.
“Bush was wrong about the war in Iraq″, Clarin, September 1st, 2005.
“Invasión of the Isolationists”, El Mundo, September 1st, 2005.
“Isolationist invasion”, International Herald Tribune, September 1st, 2005.
“Irak: le gâchis américain″, Le Monde, September 7, 2005.