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Kagan, Ikenberry, and Kurth -- American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine (Lesson 8)

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Snake review doc:

Kagan, Ikenberry, Kurth

To Lead the World: American Strategy After the Bush Doctrine''

Planning and implementation of U.S. national security policy went through a problematic, tumultuous period under the rule of George W. Bush. The Bush Doctrine of unilateral action, preventive or preemptive war, and the promotion of freedom and democracy to whole world has proven disastrous. Misconstruction of the threats created wrong policies which consequently affected most of the world in a bad way. By taking all these into account, the book of “To Lead the World – American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine” contains various national security strategy suggestions from distinguished writers and thinkers in order to contribute to a more efficient U.S. foreign policy.

The editors Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro presents a noteworthy and useful collection of essays representing a wide range of perspectives and serving as an important source on American foreign policy for the readers. Melvyn P. Leffler is the Edward R. Stettinius Professor of American History in the Corcoran Department of History and cochair of the Governing America in a Global Era program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. Jeffrey W. Legro is the Compton Professor of World Politics, Chair of the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, and cochair of the Governing America in a Global Era program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.

The study starts with an introduction part written by the editors Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro. The editors start with a brief explanation of the policies of the Bush era. Afterwards, Leffler and Jeffrey define the aim of the book and the content of the articles. By giving examples from the other presidential periods of the U.S., the editors conclude that lessons from the past can be debated and used to create new efficient strategies for the future. Lastly in this section, Leffler and Legro introduces us the main idea of the book: If the goal of the U.S. is to lead the world, creative thought and imagination is needed for the tough political issues.

Following the introduction part, the book brings together 11 articles independent from each other written in different styles with various ideas and suggestions on the new U.S. foreign policy, use of power, and solutions for the issues. The first study on creating new ideas and strategies within the book is the article of “A Farewell to Geopolitics” written by Stephen Van Evera. Van Evera is Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The author focuses on the main threats to the security and the ways to address these threats. Evera emphasizes the globalization of threats and therefore stands for cooperative policies against the threats. He states that today's challenges cannot be solved by unilateral action and requires the joint action of the world's major states. His stand is that the U.S. can achieve national security with the help of cooperation in common problems.

' Kagan - End of Dreams, Return of History

Robert Kagan (a realist) focuses on the interests of the U.S. alone. The article mostly focuses on autocracies with the examples of Russia and China, radical Islam and terrorist groups as the sources of threats. The U.S.A is seen at the center of the world politics. According to Kagan, there are divisions in interests, ideologies and policies of the states. Therefore, the important thing is finding the best way to preserve interests of the U.S. which supposedly depends on the promotion of liberal democracy, modernization, freedom, and human rights. Power shapes reality.

IkenberryLiberal Order Building
G. John Ikenberry (problems are due to collapse of institutions/norms) touches on the global order’s and institutions’ erosion as a threat in his article of “Liberal Order Building”. Ikenberry is the Albert G. Millbank Professor of Public and International Affairs in the Department of Politics and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. The author simply calls his strategy for dealing with the threat “liberal order building” (86). He proposes restoration of U.S. legitimacy and rebuilding of rules and institutions for the establishment of a liberal order. Ikenberry indicates that in case the U.S. plays the right cards in foreign policy smartly, and rebuilds its governance structure, there is no obstacle against its being at the center of the world politics.

The decentralized threats require a different strategy and there is a usage for institutions in this process.

Kurth – Boss of Bosses

James Kurth signifies disorder and nuclear terrorism as the main threats. Kurth, the Claude Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, entitles his article “Boss of Bosses”. Kurth tries to find out how to construct strong states from the failed states and restore the global order. The author gives different examples of regimes from the different parts of the world from Latin America to China. Then he mentions about the problems in the Muslim world: insurgency wars, suicide bombers, rogue ethnic communities by giving examples from Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Sunnis in Iraq. In response to all these problems, Kurth sees formation of a coalition with the three great powers of Russia, China and India, and imposition of global law and order by the U.S. as a remedy to the disorder and problems existing.

The book aims to present a variety of national security strategy statements for the U.S. in order to frame advice for future administrations. All the authors center their attention on different aspects of the national security agenda according to their own priorities and biases. Therefore, all the articles are totally independent from each other including different sets of threat, strategy, and solutions perceptions and recommendations.

The book provides a wide range of different ideas and different ideological perspectives to the reader varying from politics to economics. Moreover, the reader can also have an idea on some important details of the American policies from the past till today. This book establishes an important and useful source for all the readers from all levels who want to have an idea on the U.S. foreign policy by bringing experts from different point of view together. The book provides a bunch of possible solutions for the policy implementation of the U.S. for a better ruling after the Bush period, yet all these seems hard to be achieved in the short run.

To sum up, this work tries to prove that the Bush Doctrine was a failure and it created big damages on the administration of the U.S. both inside and outside. Although the people who find the Bush administration successful might disagree on the statements in the book, the ones who do not favor the policies of Bush administration may find the book enjoyable to read.

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