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"Power without Influence: The Bush Administrationís Foreign Policy Failure in the Middle East"

Journal Article, International Security, volume 33, issue 4

Spring 2009

Author: Jeremy Pressman, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2002-2003

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security



The administration of President George W. Bush was deeply involved in the Middle East, but its efforts did not advance U.S. national security. In the realms of counterterrorism, democracy promotion, and nonconventional proliferation, the Bush administration failed to achieve its objectives. Although the United States did not suffer a second direct attack after September 11, 2001, the terrorism situation worsened as many other countries came under attack and a new generation of terrorists trained in Iraq. Large regional powers such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia did not become more democratic, with no new leaders subject to popular mandate. The model used in Iraq of democratization by military force is risky, costly, and not replicable. Bush's policy exacerbated the problem of nuclear proliferation, expending tremendous resources on a nonexistent program in Iraq while bolstering Iran's geopolitical position. The administration failed because it relied too heavily on military force and too little on diplomacy, disregarded empiricism, and did not address long-standing policy contradictions. The case of the Bush administration makes clear that material power does not automatically translate into international influence.


For more information about this publication please contact the IS Editorial Assistant at 617-495-1914.

For Academic Citation:

Jeremy Pressman. "Power without Influence: The Bush Administrationís Foreign Policy Failure in the Middle East." International Security 33, no. 4 (Spring 2009).

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