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What is to be done? The answer, according to legal scholars Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule, is nothing.

America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy by Ivo H. Daalder

In The Executive Unbound, they provide a bracing challenge to conventional wisdom, arguing that a strong presidency is inevitable in the modern world. Most scholars, they note, object to today's level of executive power because it varies so dramatically from the vision of the framers. But there is nothing in our system of checks and balances that intrinsically generates order or promotes positive arrangements.

In fact, the greater complexity of the modern world produces a concentration of power, particularly in the White House. The authors chart the rise of executive authority straight through to the Obama presidency. Second, preemption was no longer a last resort of American foreign policy. We cannot let our enemies strike first.

Third, the United States should use its unprecedented power to produce regime change in rogue states.

Some Concluding Remarks

The idea of regime change was not new to American foreign policy. This was the gist of both the Afghanistan and the Iraq wars. Unlike proponents of rollback, who never succeeded in overcoming the argument that their policies would produce World War III, Bush based his policy on the belief that nobody could push back.

Bush presided over a revolution in foreign policy, but was he responsible for it? Commentators across the political spectrum said no.

Trump to Withdraw U.S. Forces From Syria, Declaring ‘We Have Won Against ISIS’

This conventional wisdom was wrong on at least two counts. First, it fundamentally misunderstood the intellectual currents within the Bush administration and the Republican Party more generally. Neoconservatives — who might be better called democratic imperialists — were more prominent outside the administration, particularly on the pages of Commentary and the Weekly Standard and in the television studios of Fox News, than they were inside it.

Nor for that matter was Bush. They were instead assertive nationalists — traditional hard-line conservatives willing to use American military power to defeat threats to U.


They placed their faith not in diplomacy and treaties, but in power and resolve. Agreement on this key point allowed neoconservatives and assertive nationalists to form a marriage of convenience in overthrowing the cold-war approach to foreign policy even as they disagreed about what kind of commitment the United States should make to rebuilding Iraq and remaking the rest of the world.

The second and more important flaw of the neoconservative coup theory was that it grossly underestimated George W. He may have entered the Oval Office not knowing which general ran Pakistan, but during his first thirty months in office he was the puppeteer, not the puppet.

Prometheus Unbound

He governed as he said he would on the campaign trail. View the discussion thread. About the Author.

  • Bibliography of George W. Bush.
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