Home / International / Opinion Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Bush's foreign policy legacy not without merits
Adjust font size:

George W. Bush now has less than 100 days left before he packs up and leaves the White House, while the country takes stock of his presidency, particularly in terms of foreign relations, to see what kind of a legacy he is leaving behind.

President Bush launched the war in Afghanistan less than two weeks after the September 11 incident and then extended US firepower to Iraq in 2003. If the Afghan War managed to win understanding from the rest of the world, invading Iraq without legal or moral support only proved an extreme example of the US' unilateralism and aptness to launch preemptive strikes against another independent state.

The war in Iraq threatened to split the alliance between the US and its European allies and eroded the US' moral integrity as it dragged on. It also cost the country several hundred million dollars a day in addition to more than 4,000 US troops killed there. Today over 100,000 American military members remain in Iraq and there is no sign the war will end any time soon.

The Bush administration made some changes during its second term in office. As a policy it admitted the war on Iraq was a wrong move based on faulty intelligence. And, in terms of government lineup, several prominent "hawks", including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and a former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, were sacrificed as scapegoats and taken off the official list of foreign and security policymakers.

It also sought to increase cooperation with other major powers. However, as the problems caused by the war on Iraq continued to worsen, it became apparent to many that the war was dragging the US down and making it difficult for Washington to handle other major issues as effectively as it wanted to, apart from damaging its international status. The Republican Party lost its Senate majority in the mid-term elections two years ago. This was seen as the American public's way of declaring it had had enough of a seemingly never-ending war.

Most of the Bush administration's major problems were created in the first term of its eight-year rule. But Bush should not be blamed for all of them, as changes in the country's internal political climate and external environment also played their part.

Bush winning the presidential election was a triumph of neo-conservatism. Therefore it was probably crazy to expect him to repeat what the Bill Clinton's administration did. The tremendous psychological damage caused by the September 11 attacks kept the War on Terror on top of the political agenda as a national consensus, giving Bush no choice but to charge ahead, mindful that any retreat would allow terrorism to fight back, an unthinkable political price to pay.

All in all, Bush's two-term presidency has not been entirely without merit in terms of foreign affairs.

First, the war on Iraq will be a Bush legacy in the history of US foreign strategy. The nation fought on two fronts after 9/11 fighting two wars overseas in its global war on terror while beefing up homeland security. The American public, though obviously annoyed, managed to put up with the wartime inconvenience of heightened security measures.

The Bush administration should feel quite good about the fact that no terrorist attacks have happened on American soil since the 9/11 incident despite repeated alarms over such threats.

Fighting on two fronts has cost the US a great deal but its homeland is safer than before. The Iraq War got rid of Saddam Hussein and established a democratic government in that country under US control. Though terrorist and extremist suicide attacks continue to shake the Gulf nation, the Iraqi government has not become a sympathetic umbrella for terrorism.

That said, the war on Iraq is no match to the improved US-China relationship, which is the Bush administration's greatest foreign affairs legacy.

1   2    

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Bush Gates differ over Iraq policy
- US House Resolution Challenges Bush's Iraq Policy
- Bush Calls Old Iraq Policy 'a Slow Failure'
- McCain distances himself from Bush's war policies
- Bush defends policies on interrogating terrorism suspects
> Korean Nuclear Talks
> Reconstruction of Iraq
> Middle East Peace Process
> Iran Nuclear Issue
> 6th SCO Summit Meeting
- China Development Gateway
- Foreign Ministry
- Network of East Asian Think-Tanks
- China-EU Association
- China-Africa Business Council
- China Foreign Affairs University
- University of International Relations
- Institute of World Economics & Politics
- Institute of Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies
- Institute of West Asian & African Studies
- Institute of Latin American Studies
- Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Institute of Japanese Studies