Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Five Ways Bush's Policies Changed World

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Five Ways Bush's Policies Changed World

Article excerpt

Of all President Bush's foreign-policy decisions, the one to invade Iraq and topple dictator Saddam Hussein will no doubt have the greatest and broadest impact in the years to come.

The unfinished Iraq war - from its staggering cost to the way it distracted America from other global issues to its unintended result of elevating Iran as a regional power - has come to define the Bush presidency, at least in the arena of international affairs. If a stable and relatively democratic Iraq eventually emerges from the initially chaotic venture, Mr. Bush's stock - and his legacy - will rise.

But as of this moment, the president's venture in Iraq is described variously as "a colossal blunder" and, a bit more charitably, as a failure to recognize the advent of a geopolitical shift in which superpower muscularity was giving way to a more multipolar world.

"The world has been going through a historical switching point in terms of the diffusion of power, the rise of new players, and the redistribution of global wealth, but the Bush administration has not afforded [that development] much attention," says Charles Kupchan, a foreign-policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations here. "The Bush years mired the United States in Iraq with a war reflecting a faith in American superiority that, in the end, distracted the country from addressing the broader changes going on around it."

Within this 21st-century context, the Iraq war will stand out for how it embodied both Bush's early refusal to acknowledge this new geopolitical reality and his faith in the ability of military force to effect change, some international affairs analysts say. That would change in his second term, which saw a shift from ideology to pragmatism, from unilateral zeal to multilateral diplomacy.

But valuable time was lost, says Lee Hamilton, who served as vice chairman of the 9/11 commission and is a former Democratic member of Congress from Indiana. …

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