Transformation is Hard

Bush hoped to shake up U.S. foreign policy, but history's odds are against him

After Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush made three major changes to the grand strategy that the U.S. had pursued for a half-century. He reduced reliance on permanent alliances and institutions, broadened the traditional right of pre-emption into a new doctrine of preventive war and advocated coercive democratization as a solution to the problem of terrorism in the Middle East. His September 2002 National Security Strategy was widely seen as revolutionary.

The ultimate success or failure of Bush's effort at transforming American grand strategy will be judged by history. Top officials believe that no matter who wins the 2008 election,...

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