The Legacy of George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy

Moving beyond Neoconservatism


Ilan Peleg

First Edition • February 1, 2009 • 224 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813344461 • $35.00 USD$69.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786744367 • $19.99 USD$22.99 CAN

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This volume incisively analyzes the foreign policy of George W. Bush. Examining the legacy of the forty-third President, author Ilan Peleg explains the complex factors underlying the Bush Doctrine: neoconservative ideology, real and perceived challenges to US world supremacy, Bush’s personality, the White House’s unique decision-making process, and the impact of September 11. Peleg argues that in its shift from deterrence and containment to prevention and preemption, from multilateral leadership to unilateral militarism, and from consensual realism to radical neoconservatism, the Bush administration has effected a true revolution in the foundational goals of US foreign policy.

Peleg also offers judicious recommendations for future administrations, including the reestablishment of a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, increased emphasis on multilateralism, the demilitarization of US foreign policy, resolution of serious regional conflicts, and more realistic expectations about noncoerced democratization around the world.


Ilan Peleg is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Government and Law at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He is the author of several previous books including Begin’s Foreign Policy, 1977–1983: Israel’s Turns to the Right (1987), the award-winning Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza (1995), and most recently the much-praised Democratizing the Hegemonic State: Political Transformation in the Age of Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He also edited a series of books on bi-nationalism, the Middle East peace process, and human rights. Dr. Peleg is the editor-in-chief of Israel Studies Forum: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Chapter 1—Introduction: Controversial Policy and Uncertain Future, 2001–2009

Chapter 2—The Challenge to America and the World

Chapter 3—The Neoconservative Revolution: The Ideological Infrastructure of the Bush Doctrine

Chapter 4—The Personality of George W. Bush

Chapter 5—The Decision-Making Process: Past and Future

Chapter 6—Lessons for Future Presidents: America and the World Beyond Neoconservatism

“In contrast to the polemics that are all too common, this book offers a scholarly and nuanced examination of George W. Bush’s foreign policy. Its detailed and thorough analysis of the many factors responsible for George W. Bush’s revolutionary foreign policy not only makes an important contribution to our understanding of his foreign policy, but also to how misconceptions and mistakes can occur in foreign policy making and the disastrous consequences these can have.”
—Dov Waxman, Baruch College, City University of New York

“Scholars of international relations have long debated why states pursue the foreign policies that they do. Documenting the neoconservative ideological roots of George W. Bush’s foreign policy imperatives, Peleg’s book contributes both to our understanding of US foreign policy during the Bush era and to the broader debates in the field about the origins of foreign policy choices. The simplicity and accessibility of the writing style will make this book useful for introductory courses in US foreign policy.”
—Oded Haklai, Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario

“Peleg explores with admirable lucidity the meaning, roots, and consequences of what he calls “the Bush revolution in American foreign policy”. This is a timely and important work of scholarship, pointing the way towards a reevaluation that is imperative if mistakes of the past are not to be repeated.”
—Jonathan Mendilow, Rider University

“A stimulating analysis and critique of the neoconservative ideology that shaped the George W. Bush Administration’s foreign policy.”
—Robert O. Freedman, Johns Hopkins University

“Labeling Bush’s foreign policy ‘revolutionary’ in its neoconservative aspirations, Peleg sees the administration as breaking decisively from the philosophical orientation of previous post–cold war presidents. The author argues that the ascendancy of an ‘inexperienced and unknowledgeable’ Bush, with the influential neoconservative Cheney at his side, led to this ideological turn, encapsulated in the strategic vision of the Bush Doctrine. … Peleg offers constructive strategic recommendations in [the] closing pages.”
—Publishers Weekly

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