The Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War: Neoconservatives vs. Realists – Review

Category: Iraq, Iraq War
Last Updated: 18 May 2021
Essay type: Review
Pages: 5 Views: 446

I intend to review “The Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War: Neoconservatives vs. Realists” by Brian C. Schmidt and Michael C. Williams. The reason for choosing this article for review is simply because of its relevance today throughout the Middle East and how the American foreign policy is drastically changing the dynamics of the world. Schmidt and Williams use the elements of the neoconservative Bush Doctrine to show the direct contrast between realists and neoconservatives. The authors use the Bush Doctrine as an anchor to demonstrate realists’ anti-war views as the Bush Doctrine “provided the key rationale for the Iraq War. This is the main theme of the paper and the authors express this throughout the paper in a fascinating, enthralling fashion. The previously supported neoconservative project has been fatally wounded through its invasion of Iraq. The Bush Doctrine does in fact “represent an abrupt and unprecedented shift in American foreign policy. ” The United States of America had been the most influential nation in the entire world (“land of opportunity”), with its huge military force and dominant economic position, but with this doctrine came a wave of unexpected anti-Americanism.

Schmidt and Williams make reference to Morgenthau and his struggles to “to convince American foreign policy officials of the dangers of conceptualizing the national interest in universalistic moral terms. ” I agree with his mind-set that the Iraqi invasion was “national-suicide” and bruised the image of America worldwide. His vision that spreading democracy would result in disaster may have been pessimistic but was completely accurate. American realists were right from the offset; they believed that it was “unnecessary and counterproductive to invade Iraq. ” And in hindsight they were extremely correct.

However they failed to “steer America away from the road to war. ” If all the evidence was weak, vague, and “baseless” , why did realists fail to persuade the public that the invasion would prove to be disastrous? This is what Schmidt and Williams set out to solve. One of the most chilling yet accurate quotes of the article is: “their wisdom only taking flight at dusk when most of the damage has already been done. ” It was important to publish these ideas to demonstrate how gullible the American public (and even Congress) were in following the Bush administration to war and to ensure that this aggressive strategy is never repeated.

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It was also important to publish this article to illustrate the future implications of the Iraqi war on the U. S foreign policy. Schmidt and Williams use different methods throughout the article to reach their conclusions. They state and evaluate the arguments that realists adopted in order to defer America from invading Iraq. They also demonstrate the tactics used by neoconservatives to undermine and defeat realists in the lead up to the war in Iraq. The authors engage in these different methods to reach conclusions as to why realism ultimately failed in the Iraqi debate.

The subjects in this article are visibly neoconservatives and realists. It is clear from this article that neoconservatives and realists share a very different outlook. One of the most accurate yet sombre quotes is: “As Mearsheimer sees it, realism quickly unravels the neoconservatives' faulty logic and explains the current reality of the Iraq situation. ” This statement oppresses me as it was too late to materialize and fight against the decision to invade Iraq. The authors draw on John Ikenberry and his belief that terrorists “ “cannot be deterred because they are either willing to die for their cause or able to escape retaliation. This is a brilliant quote used by Schmidt and Williams in this article as it shows the apparent ruthlessness of these ‘terrorists’. They use elements of the Bush Doctrine to demonstrate the tactics used by neoconservatives to persuade the American public towards supporting the invasion of Iraq. Drawing on these elements is a very intriguing technique and draws the reader in. The authors point out from the offset that the Bush Doctrines goal was for the United States “to preserve its hegemonic position for the indefinite future. ” This is a brash statement demonstrates the neoconservative’s belief in a unipolar America.

By referring to the Bush Doctrine in this article the authors demonstrate the idealistic notions of neoconservatives and their belief that America “leadership as a prerequisite for an orderly and peaceful world. ” The authors use a brilliant quote to depict the neoconservatives ultimately naive and unipolar view that ‘one-size fits all’: “American hegemony is the only reliable defence against a breakdown of peace and international order. ” The authors cleverly reproduce a metaphor used by Mearsheimer: “Wilsonism with teeth” which brilliantly depicts neoconservatives’ absolute belief in unilateralism and America being the sole superpower.

It captured my attention as a reader drawing me in to the article. Schmidt and Williams make reference to Walt’s argument: “how can other states be comfortable and secure when U. S. decisions affect all of their interests, and when the United States is strong enough to act pretty much as it wishes? ” This is a brilliant rhetoric question which draws the reader in. Through the use of rhetoric question the author’s emphasis their point that the United States do in fact pose a huge threat to the rest of the world. The authors use impeccable language to express their point that neoconservative and realist views are in direct contrast.

Alliteration (‘p’ repetition) is used in the following sentence which, in my opinion as a reader, draws the audience in because of its dramatic and memorable effect: “Rather than a prescription for peace, as most realists maintain, neoconservatives view balance-of-power politics as both unnecessary and a hindrance to achieving American national interests, while America's preeminent position in the world obviates the need for traditional balance-of-power diplomacy. ” Schmidt and Williams state that realism “lacks any view beyond narrowly strategic material calculation, narrowly pragmatic judgment, or pluralist competition. I agree with this statement, realists to carry a very pessimistic, strategic view. This is not suitable in modern politics due to globalization. In my opinion the major weakness of the article is that Schmidt and Williams fail to give a solid resolution to the problem and how to restore America’s image abroad and how to improve the future of the US foreign policy. In the conclusion Schmidt and Williams ask the all-important question: “can realism make its analytic positions politically powerful? ” In my opinion the answer is yes but only if realists develop their ideas to suit the modern world today.

Traditional realism has most definitely surpassed, however, following the full failure of the Bush administration, realists will be called upon in order to guide the American foreign policy and restore its pride and glory that took centuries to build. In my essay, I reviewed the article “The Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War: Neoconservatives vs. Realists” by Brian C. Schmidt and Michael C. Williams. I decided to illustrate the main theme at the start of my essay and explained why I thought it was important that these ideas were published.

I followed by explaining the author’s methodology and described the basic results from their research. I proceeded by declaring the article's strengths and weaknesses, particularly focusing on the writing skills used by Schmidt and Williams. Finally, I reviewed the conclusion. I found this article particularly interesting and thought-provoking. I have always been exposed to the heroic attributes of America because of the propaganda media broadcasted; however, Brian C. Schmidt and Michael C. Williams illustrate a quite unbiased view of the nation and the possible future implications of the U. S foreign policy.

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The Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War: Neoconservatives vs. Realists – Review. (2018, May 19). Retrieved from

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