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Yet Another Anon

It isn't as simple as there being a single foreign policy to apply worldwide, each country has to be approached differently depending on how they fit into the global community, their culture, military capabilities, resources and the way they behave towards other countries.


Tim what does a strong America mean with Iran if they go nuclear and Pakistan if fanatics get power?

And what does it mean with our European friends? :(

Adam Cull

I fully agree a weak America is dangerous but disagree that Bush has lurched between three different foreign policies. He has rather accepted that no one strategy is sufficient in a world where the old cold war realities no longer hold. The Bush doctrine therefore rightly challenges the old dichotomy between realism and idealism and joins them together to form a ‘balance of power that favours freedom’. In reality this means different policies for different circumstances. Iraq is different to Iran is different to Pakistan is different to Saudi Arabia.

I can’t see this approach changing. The four key tenants of the Bush doctrine have relevance beyond 2009 and have not been seriously challenged by any of the Presidential candidates. They all accept that:

•democracies are inherently peaceful and have common interests in building a benign international environment that is congenial to American interests and ideals;
•That there is a great threat from terrorists, especially when linked to tyrannical regimes and weapons of mass destruction;
•That these new threats mean that deterrence and even defence are no longer adequate to deal with the dangers and so the US must be prepared to take preventative actions, including war, if necessary; and
•That although alliances should be sought, American actions cannot be vetoed.

They key debate in 2009 is not going to be about changing course but what new name to give to the Bush Doctrine.


Fascinating premise - honestly quite the most thoughtful idea I've seen in ages.



I haven't commented on this site in some months, but I must say that this post (and accompanying article) is one of the most insightful policy analyses I have seen in a long time. Bravo.

Malcolm Dunn

It's too early to say whether American foreign policy has been unsuccessful in Pakistan.Musharraf may not fall or he may be replaced by another democrat.
Equally it is too early to judge what the outcome in Iran will be. What is the alternative? Iran is a much more powerful country than Iraq and I suspect that the only way to destroy the Iranians militarily is to nuke them. Is that what you would suggest?

Tim Montgomerie

Malcolm: I agree that it's too early to judge which is why I wrote... "Rushing to judgment is hardwired into our 24/7 news culture but it probably won’t be possible to evaluate the mix’n’match Bush foreign policies for five, ten or even twenty more years." All I'm saying is that there is a real possibility that Bush/ the world has gotten things more wrong/ less right with Iran/ Pakistan.

Nice to have you back, JF, if only for a little while!

Adam in London

How can you talk about Pakistan without mentioning Benazir Bhutto?

Jennifer Wells

I agree... a really clever piece.
It's given me something to think about.


democracies are inherently peaceful and have common interests in building a benign international environment that is congenial to American interests and ideals

I don't agree. Only LIBERAL democracies are inherently peaceful.

If the Arabic World turned democratic tomorrow, Islamist organisations will be empowered - it won't be pretty. In Africa, democracy has not guaranteed stability. The major challenge in much of the World is not international conflict, but intra-national conflict.

An example is Nigeria. Shari'a was never adopted under military rule, but as soon as democratic rule was restored in 1999 - 12 out of the 36 Nigerian states adopted Shari'a. Niger Delta militancy also increased after democratic rule was restored.

At present, Nigeria (that provides 12% of our crude and rising) is in the danger of implosion. The same applies to MANY other strategic nations.

The thrust of our foreign policy should be on building institutions. Institutions and not elections guarantee stability. A nation like Saudi Arabia (whose courts sentence a woman to lashing and jail time for being raped) - does not have the institutions to support a LIBERAL DEMOCRACY.

Our foreign policy is rightly focussed on security. However, we need to place a little more emphasis on economics. In much of the World, we are emphasizing security and counter-terrorism which is good. But security and counter-terrorism are not the most important issues for people and leadership in large parts of the World.

It is bad PR to give the world the impression that "we just want to hunt down the bad guys and we will give you aid as part of the process". We are busy establishing military ties (Somalia, Djibouti, Philippines, Guinea, Senegal, Nigeria) while the Chinese are establishing economic ties.

Which ties endure the most - military or economic?

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