Time: Bush administration's cowboy diplomat days are over

Published: Sunday July 9, 2006

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Time magazine's new cover story declares a "seismic" change in the Bush administration's foreign policy, RAW STORY has found. Pre-emptive war, unilateral action, black-and-white phrasings -- these trappings of "cowboy diplomacy" -- are being replaced by a humbler, more traditional approach.

The reason: The belligerence, most in evidence in the US-led invasion of Iraq, hasn't worked as hoped.

Excerpts from the article by Mike Allen and Romesh Ratnesar:

So what happened? The most obvious answer is that the Bush Doctrine foundered in the principal place the U.S. tried to apply it. Though no one in the White House openly questions Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, some aides now acknowledge that it has come at a steep cost in military resources, public support and credibility abroad. The Administration is paying the bill every day as it tries to cope with other crises. Pursuing the forward-leaning foreign policy envisioned in the Bush Doctrine is nearly impossible at a time when the U.S. is trying to figure out how to extricate itself from Iraq. Around the world, both the U.S.'s friends and its adversaries are taking note—and in many cases, taking advantage—of the strains on the superpower. If the toppling of Saddam Hussein marked the high-water mark of U.S. hegemony, the past three years have witnessed a steady erosion in Washington's ability to bend the world to its will.
A strategic makeover is evident in the ascendancy of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has tried to repair the Administration's relations with allies and has persuaded Bush to join multilateral negotiations aimed at defusing the standoffs with North Korea and Iran. By training and temperament, Rice is a foreign policy realist, less inclined to the moralizing approach of the neoconservatives who dominated Bush's War Cabinet in the first term. Her push for pragmatism has rubbed off on hawks like Vice President Dick Cheney, the primary intellectual force behind Bush's post-9/11 policies. "There's a move, even by Cheney, toward the Kissingerian approach of focusing entirely on vital interests," says a presidential adviser. "It's a more focused foreign policy that is driven by realism and less by ideology."
If Bush hopes to salvage a more popular, less contested legacy, he needs to commit himself to something big and attainable beyond Iraq—a strategic rapprochement with Iran, perhaps, or a Marshall Plan for African development—and bring allies on board for the ride. Of course, the longing for a foreign policy legacy is common to all lame-duck Presidents; more often than not, such quests have ended in disappointment. Bush may still be able to avoid that fate, but he's running out of time.


The full article (subscription required) is here.