The Bush doctrine has become a complete shambles
21nd Feb 2006 The Australian
Leading neoconservative Francis Fukuyama, in the New York Times Magazine, on the end of an era.
AS we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly.
By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The US still has a chance of creating a Shia-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbours, including Iran.
There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the US has spent on the project to this point.
The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration's first term is now in shambles. The doctrine argued that, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, America would have to launch periodic preventive wars to defend itself against rogue states and terrorists with weapons of mass destruction; that it would do this alone, if necessary; and that it would work to democratise the greater Middle East as a long-term solution to the terrorist problem.
But successful pre-emption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America's perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before. It is not surprising that in its second term, the administration has been distancing itself from these policies.
But it is the idealistic effort to use American power to promote democracy and human rights abroad that may suffer the greatest setback. Perceived failure in Iraq has restored the authority of foreign policy "realists" in the tradition of Henry Kissinger. Already there is a host of books and articles decrying America's naive Wilsonianism and attacking the notion of trying to democratise the world.
The administration's second-term efforts to push for greater Middle Eastern democracy, introduced with the soaring rhetoric of Bush's second inaugural address, have borne very problematic fruits. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood made a strong showing in Egypt's parliamentary elections in November and December. While the holding of elections in Iraq this past December was an achievement in itself, the vote led to the ascendance of a Shia bloc with close ties to Iran.
But the clincher was the decisive Hamas victory in the Palestinian election last month, which brought to power a movement overtly dedicated to the destruction of Israel ... The charge will be made with increasing frequency that the Bush administration made a big mistake when it stirred the pot, and that the US would have done better to stick by its traditional friends in the Middle East.