Sat, Feb 05, 2005 - Page 9 News List

Bush doctrine phase two: the spread of freedom worldwide

By Yuan Jing-dong

In his second inauguration speech, US President George W. Bush called for the spread of human liberty and freedom to all corners of the world. This was a speech full of American ideas and ideals and one that recalled other historical moments in the short chronicle of the young republic -- from Woodrow Wilson, to Franklin Roosevelt, to Harry Truman. Take the following:

"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

Almost 58 years ago, appearing before a joint session of Congress seeking US$400 million for Greece and Turkey, Truman made a similar appeal: "It must be the policy of the United States" to support their efforts to resist "subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." It was a call to arms to resist the spread of communism, an ideology seen as a serious threat to liberty and democracy. The Truman Doctrine ushered in the strategy of containment as the core of postwar US national security policy.

However, the strategy of containment was limited in its scope and applied in a more defensive manner, with clearly defined objectives: to resist Soviet communist expansionism to regions critical to US strategic interests -- Europe and East Asia. But Bush's call for freedom envisions a much grander objective and with a much more sweeping reach.

World Transformation

Now the very security, prosperity and wellbeing of the US will depend on whether the idea and ideal of human liberty and freedom could transform the entire world. This is a tall order that demands a level of determination and commitments of resources and resolve that America, powerful as it is, may ill afford and indeed be unwise to execute.

The US' power in the post-Cold War world is unprecedented. Never before in history have economic wealth, technological advances, and military prowess concentrated in one single country. The US' national security strategies since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of Communism have been to maintain, consolidate and expand American primacy to prevent any potential competitor(s) from arising to challenge its unipolar position in the international system.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the growing threats of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems convince the neoconservatives that the world will never be safe for America unless and until this conditions pertains: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

The issue is not about whether the expansion of freedom and the success of liberty across the globe are something to be praised -- they are, albeit with different interpretations and emphasis in different parts of the world and with different cultures and traditions; the issue is how this ideal is to be achieved. Here lies the second phase of the Bush doctrine, whose first phase emphasized military preemption, unilateralism, and the pursuit of absolute security.

Preserving Primacy

There is a strong continuity between the first and the second phase. Indeed, proponents of the Bush doctrine have argued that the US should take advantage of the unique opportunity (unipolarity) to use its primacy to build a balance of power favoring freedom. Given the nature of the threats to its security interests, the US should not hesitate and must be willing to exercise its military power to defend itself and further advance its primacy.

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