Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Use of Force: Ideological Influence on US National Security Strategies under George W. Bush and Barack Obama (2002-2010)

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Use of Force: Ideological Influence on US National Security Strategies under George W. Bush and Barack Obama (2002-2010)

Article excerpt


This research extends the survey that classifies the US political theories upon the issue of military enforcement issue in American foreign policy and international relations. The article demonstrates how earlier proposed theoretical classification and its implications works when applied to the comparative analysis of the National Security Strategies of the USA released by George Bush Administration in 2002 and 2006 and Barack Obama Administration in 2010. The key provisions of these Strategies are reviewed consistently with the ideas of American political scientists who participated in the elaboration of the Strategies' drafts. The research has shown that the Strategies 2002, 2006 and 2010 had inherited the main principles and guidelines worked out in by Philip Zelikow, Peter Feaver and James Steinberg as for the Strategies of the years 2002, 2006 and 2010 respectively. The analysis of ideological influence on Bush and Obama Strategies has also exposed that Bush and Obama political courses have quite similar ideological backgrounds for the use of force issue In this way the Obama's Strategy of the year 2010 contains the same categories as the Bush's Strategies of 2002 and 2006: the regime change, the limited sovereignty and probable preventive use of force. Hence, interventionalism turns out to be the primary ideological foundation of the Strategies of 2002, 2006 and 2010. However the differences between the approaches of the Bush and Obama Administrations towards the questions of the use of force legitimacy and priorities unveil that the Strategies of 2002 and 2006 have radical inclinations whereas Obama's strategy incorporates the ideas of rationalism.

Keywords: interventionalists, conceptualists, defenders, national security strategy, Philip Zelikow, Peter Feaver, James Steinberg

1. Introduction

Presumably, military force remains the key factor in the contemporary system of international politics and international relations. Nowadays the only superpower is not inclined to refuse from active military response towards variety of threats including threats from (rogue) states or (terrorism). However the US security strategy and political science have not elaborated any comprehensive and explicit approach to the notion of "threat" which seems to be indispensable as long as the US does not have permanent political adversaries and its enemy list is compiled and revised subsequently to the changes in the American national interests. In view of the above. it is interesting whether there is any perspective for the US to change its point of view and refuse from aggressive use of force concepts.

In order to answer this question we, first of all, have to revise the use of forceconcepts that exist in American scientific society. In our previous article (Sukhovey & Gaivoronskaya, 2014) we have shown theoretical model suitable for the description of concepts concerning the use of military force issue that exist in US political thinking. Thus proponents of active use of military force are generally regarded as interventionalists; upholders of non-aggressive use of force concepts (Selective engagement, Smart power, Balance of power and offshore balancing) as conceptualists, and those who speak against the use of force except for the rare cases of self-defense from direct attack as defenders.

Now we have to investigate which approach to the use of force concept is represented in the security strategies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama and whether there are any significant differences between their political courses towards the issue of military engagement. In order to answer these questions we will analyze two presidents' guidelines written in National Security Strategies from 2002 to 2010. Then the Strategies will be compared with ideas of American political scientists who contributed to the Strategies creation in order to figure out ideological characteristics of Bush and Obama Strategies propositions. …

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