Bush’s Third Term

My first piece for The National Interest, “Bush’s Third Term,” is now up.  It catalogs the remarkable continuity  between Barack Obama’s foreign policy and that of his predecessor.

The closer:

Through some combination of political calculation and genuine misunderstanding, Obama campaigned against a caricature of Bush’s foreign policy. Early in Bush’s second term, he began quietly shifting away from the so-called neoconservatives, and the realists resumed their dominance. Paul Wolfowitz went off to the World Bank in 2005. Doug Feith left that same year. After the November 2006 midterm debacle, Don Rumsfeld was allowed to ride off into the sunset, too. Pragmatic realists Condoleezza Rice and Bob Gates came into ascendency and quietly changed the administration’s focus. Obama has surrounded himself with pragmatic realists, too, so it’s not all that surprising that he’s carrying on the same basic strategy.

More importantly, however, despite the frenzy over personalities that we frequently find ourselves caught up in, the fact of the matter is that, like Bush before him, Obama is the American president. While different occupants of the Oval Office naturally have different instincts and emphases, their country has the same interests regardless of who’s filling the big chair. Likewise, we seem to constantly forget, the countries with whom we deal have continuing interests.

More at the link.

Photo: Reuters Pictures.

FILED UNDER: Published Elsewhere, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. steve says:

    Nice article. I think getting rid of Rumsfeld was key.
    I still think he would have kept him if the Republicans had not lost the 206 elections. The other key was the marginalizing of Cheney. I think that early on Bush deferred too much to Cheney. I remain concerned that Cheney is taking such a prominent spot in the party.