The American Interest

A New Balance of Power

Seven years is a well-rounded time span, for better (“Behold, there come seven years of great plenty”) or for worse (“And there shall arise after them seven years of famine”).  As we enter the final year of George W. Bush’s presidency, it is time to look at his septennial foreign-policy scorecard without malice, which his name often evokes these days, but with the charity that rejoiceth in truth.

During his first campaign, Mr. Bush said that we needed a “humbler” foreign policy than that conducted under Bill Clinton.  He singled out the U.S. intervention in Haiti “to restore democracy” and the “nation-building” mission in Kosovo as the sort of adventures that would be avoided under his watch.  That now seems light years ago.  After Dr. Jek-yll’s brief early spell, Mr. Hyde took over, fortifying himself with ever-larger doses of the potion.

The first disquieting signs came before September 11, with Mr. Bush’s strong advocacy of further NATO enlargement and his support for the missile-defense system that demanded American abrogation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Moscow.  Already by the summer of 2001, the Bush administration sounded completely unyielding on missile defense.  Its chief proponent was Donald Rumsfeld, who argued that it was needed to maintain global hegemony: “a number of countries...

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