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Bush gives us a 'grand strategy'

May 05, 2007|By DONALD CURRIER

A new book entitled, "Surprise, Security, and the American Experience" by author John Lewis Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett professor of military and naval history at Yale University, has just been published. The book argues that the United States, over its entire existence, has embraced just three "grand strategies" of American foreign policy.

Grand strategies set the policies that define a nation's vital interests and priorities for years and even decades. Gaddis identifies the first "grand strategy" as the Monroe Doctrine, which emphasized America's primacy in the Western Hemisphere and stressed a strong sense of nationalism and the virtues of noninvolvement in foreign affairs.

The second grand strategy was President Roosevelt's plan for post-World War II Europe, promoting free markets and self-determination and the creation of the United Nations. It conveyed the sense of internationalism, the one -world philosophy of shared responsibilities and shared goals.

The third grand strategy, according to Gaddis, is the Bush Doctrine. Simply stated, it is the strategy of stabilizing and hopefully democratizing the Middle East and of preventing terrorists and rogue states around the world from getting weapons of mass destruction. Because these are of such vital national interest to the United States, we will take on the mission alone, if need be. We will not share responsibility for our own survival with any international body, even when we may share goals.


In 2002, President Bush established the Bush Doctrine in a speech describing North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as being an "axis of evil" that must be contained or destroyed.

One might ask "Why Iraq as the starting point for implementing the Bush Doctrine?" We went into Iraq not just because our intelligence sources convinced us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence agencies of every major power in the world believed the same. The other key factor was because it was right in the middle of a strategic and dangerous area. It was controlled by a vicious dictator. President Bush believed it was a prime candidate for transforming itself into some form of representative democracy once the dictator was deposed.

Once that happened and the rest of the Arab populations of the Middle East could observe the benefits of the transformation, others might follow and thus stabilize the whole region.

The goal was never to control the oil reserves of Iraq. It was to ensure peace and prosperity in the region so that all countries, including the United States, as consumers of oil, could count on stable and uninterrupted supply. We have started on the way towards achieving that goal.

Looking over the three grand strategies that have governed U.S. foreign policies over the centuries, it is easy to see why they were what they were and why they now are what they are under the Bush Doctrine.

The first grand strategy was conditioned by our geographic isolation in the 18th and 19th centuries. We developed our national character and maintained our reluctance to get involved in world affairs because we could.

The second grand strategy evolved from the general revulsion by world powers of ever again experiencing the bloody convulsions of war on an international scale of the magnitude of World War II. The major powers, including the U.S., tried to create a system of nation states that would prevent this from happening again.

In essence, this was the follow-up to the one-world community idea in which nations would police themselves and collectively discipline any nation who would try to harm its neighbors.

This governed our foreign policies during the latter part of the 20th century.

The third grand strategy - the Bush Doctrine - came about because the events of this decade showed beyond a shadow of doubt that collective security would not keep us safe, especially when extra-national entities were the threat and where modern weaponry and the means to deliver them without warning existed.

The safety and security of the United States could not be trusted to others. We must proactively control our own destiny with or without the aid of friends or alliances.

The Bush Doctrine is the realism of the 21st century.

Donald Currier is a

Smithsburg-area resident

who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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