Niall Ferguson: After The Bush Doctrine genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

While many Americans are of the belief that the upcoming 2008 election will signal a new direction in U.S. foreign policy, there is little reason to conclude that the actions and implications of the Bush Doctrine can be reversed in short order. In order to understand the future, one must frequently consult the past.

In the following video, Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, historian, and author of Colossus: The Price of America's Empire, offers an informed conceptual analysis of U.S. foreign policy focused upon the meaning and implications of what has come to be known as the Bush Doctrine. Ferguson points that this doctrine is premised upon three basic principles. They are as follows:

1. Preemption: The need to act against emerging threats before they are fully formed.

2. Unilateralism: The right to act alone against perceived threats.

3. Bringing the hope of democracy and free trade to all corners of the world...and standing for the rule of law, free speech, freedom of worship, equal justice, respect for women, religious and ethnic tolerance, and respect for public and private property.

Ferguson proceeds to explain the good and bad news associated with these goals and the various resources and costs which would be necessary to implement them...paying particular attention to the third goal. Ferguson believes this final objective is most constrained by financial considerations that would most likely exceed the capability of the behemoth U.S. economy.

Ferguson also points to three other deficit areas that would likely constrain the U.S. from achieving the goals of the Bush Doctrine. They include a manpower deficit, an attention deficit, and a legitimacy deficit. In listening to Ferguson, it becomes apparent that he views the legitimacy deficit as the prevailing obstacle to the ongoing pursuit of the Bush Doctrine.

Ferguson talks about manpower with relation to the war in Iraq and the latest surge...noting that the U.S. troop reduction in 2005 led to increasing violence and conflict. He notes that the current surge has improved the conditions in Iraq...which clearly points to the manpower requirements necessary to achieve the goals of the Bush Doctrine.

Ferguson continues with a comprehensive analysis well worth viewing by anyone looking to gain a full understanding of the United States foreign policy considerations, our status with other nations, and the factors which must be considered as we move forward in an ever more complex world.

He pays particular attention to dissecting the false notions that make the Bush Doctrine (especially the Cheney driven belief that we must view future 9/11's as 100% probable and act accordingly) a suspect policy objective premised upon a number of faulty assumptions. From there, Ferguson takes a look at the future considerations and the issues which may soon face the United States and the world.

Tagged as: Bush Doctrine, China, Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, History, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Niall Ferguson, Preemption

Daniel DiRito | November 10, 2007 | 11:25 AM
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