America Embattled: September 11, Anti-Americanism, and the Global Order

By Richard Crockatt | Go to book overview

5

Responding to terror

George W. Bush and American foreign policy

My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in two decades-because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay.

George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 29, 2002

John Adams, America's second president and a considerable political theorist, defined a republic as “a government of laws, and not of men.” 1 Government, he implied, should be administered without special favor to any individual or interest; it should embody the good of society as a whole and not any one portion of it. In a republic, the law was king. This became a key principle on which American constitutionalism was built. The US Constitution itself was designed to distribute power throughout the political system and to control its effects irrespective of whoever happened to be in power. The genius of the American Constitution was precisely that it rendered the effects of personality neutral.

Curious, then, that judgments about American politics and foreign affairs should focus so sharply on the personalities of presidents. 2 There are few modern presidents of note who do not have a “doctrine” to their name-from Monroe through Theodore Roosevelt to Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton-testimony to a public predisposition to personalize the remote abstractions of foreign policy. Presidents themselves know that to make their policies count, they must have brand recognition. Monroe may not have conceived of his own policy as a doctrine-it came to be referred to as such only in the 1850s 3 -but later presidents evidently strove to give their own foreign policies doctrinal status, and political scientists and historians willingly obliged. Notoriously, elections seem to turn on little but personality or, more accurately, image. Modern electoral politics, television,

-136-

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America Embattled: September 11, Anti-Americanism, and the Global Order
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • September 11, 2001 1
  • 1 - How America Sees the World 7
  • 2 - How the World Sees America 39
  • 3 - The Roots of Terror 72
  • 4 - The Limits of Governance 108
  • 5 - Responding to Terror 136
  • Conclusion 162
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 186
  • Index 195
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