President Bush Outlines Second Term Foreign Policy

President Outlines Foreign Policy (Dana Milbank, WaPo, A32)

 Before a speech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, President Bush sits next to an illustration of two World War II-era legends: President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Bush pledged to support President Bush on Wednesday outlined a second-term foreign policy that would make international cooperation his administration’s top priority but put responsibility for Middle East peace efforts on the Palestinians, a tough stance at odds with some U.S. allies. Addressing Canadian officials at the end of a two-day trip to the country, Bush vowed that his first order of business would be to build “multilateral institutions,” signaling that, after a contentious first term, he was eager for more fruitful diplomacy. “A new term in office is an important opportunity to reach out to our friends,” the president said, making his most extensive remarks on foreign affairs since his reelection last month. Pledging to “foster a wide international consensus” for “three great goals,” he said the first would be “building effective multinational and multilateral institutions and supporting effective multilateral action.” The other priorities, he said, are fighting terrorism and promoting democracy.

Yet, in a speech at this city’s storied seaport, Bush made clear that such cooperation must occur on his terms, and he did not retreat from the first-term policies that angered some allies. Indeed, he appeared to harden his position on the Middle East by omitting the obligations he had previously placed on Israel and saying peace in the region could be achieved only through democratic reforms by the Palestinians.

With Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin sharing the stage, Bush again urged Canada to cooperate in a continental missile defense system — an unpopular notion here — and he implicitly rebuked Canada and the United Nations for not supporting the invasion of Iraq. “The objective of the U.N. and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate,” he said. “For the sake of peace, when those bodies promise serious consequences, serious consequences must follow.” Bush also suggested that Canada had strayed from the philosophy of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the World War II-era prime minister who said Canada must “meet the enemy before he reaches our shores.” Bush said, “Mackenzie King was correct then, and we must always remember the wisdom of his words today.”

This tact by Bush, both reaching out and yet not backing down from his principles, is exactly right. Canada and the United States have a special relationship and will always be close. Unfortunately, large parts of our northern neighbor have caught the European disease of socialism and appeasement. I’m hoping Martin will turn them back onto the right path.

Kate McMillan live blogged the speech yesterday afternoon.

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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. vdibart says:

    This is little more than a rewording from George “You’re With Me or You’re Against Me” Bush intended to give the illusion that he’s chosen a more conciliatory stance. The fact of the matter is that he ridiculed Kerry for *months* about coalition building as a means to the end of terror and improving the Iraq situation (think the “global test” persecution), and now he’s conveniently forgotten that he stood on the other side of conciliation. How does one do that with a straight face?

  2. McGehee says:

    Vdibart, how do you misquote Bush with a straight face? He didn’t say “You’re With Me or You’re Against Me,” and what he did say was not placing him “on the other side of conciliation” — only against appeasement.

    And that’s what distinguishes Kerry’s “global test” from Bush’s present stance.

    How un-nuanced of you not to see this.