Hoover Fellow Ken Jowitt Analyzes American Foreign Policy in a Post 9/11 World

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

American foreign policy, the president's speeches, and the future of democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere following 9/11 were discussed at a Breakfast Briefing by Hoover fellow Kenneth Jowitt March 31. Jowitt, the Pres and Maurine Hotchkis Senior Fellow, compared themes he detected in President George W. Bush's second inaugural address and 2005 State of the Union message with ideas found in the Book of Revelations.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush discovered his political calling and national purpose, Jowitt explained. "After 9/11, American foreign policy underwent an extraordinary change not only from the Clinton administration, but from the pre-9/11 days of the Bush administration," Jowitt said. "The Bush administration's American foreign policy was informed and directed by one overriding ethos, interpretation, and expectation, captured in one phrase, the imminence of global democracy starting most dramatically in the Middle East." Whereas Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to make the world safe for democracy, George W. Bush wants to make the world a democracy, Jowitt added, in a display of his characteristic irreverence.

Although Jowitt believes it was right to go into Iraq because the regime of Saddam Hussein was a danger, he departs from those he calls radical Republicans (or neoconservatives) who believe that the removal of Hussein would result in the discovery and destruction of weapons of mass destruction, the rapid appearance of a educated Iraqi civil society, and the corresponding emergence of democracy in other Middle Eastern countries. "After 9/11, the Bush administration acted on a millenarian belief in an abrupt, rapid, and comprehensive global democratic revolution beginning with the most intransigent obstacle, the Arab-Muslim Middle East," he said.

However, in the president's speeches at his second inauguration and 2005 State of the Union address, Jowitt said, a different and opposed idea to imminence was introduced, that of endurance, which is required stay the course in an effort to end tyranny. Jowitt sees President Bush basing his actions on his belief that his efforts in that direction are not simply a policy but a calling. Furthermore, Jowitt said, President Bush believes this view is supported by his reelection and events that suggest democracy are under development around the world. "The Book of Revelations complements the idea of Christ's imminent return with an emphasis on and demand for endurance," Jowitt explained, "for coming to grips with the fact that just as Christ's return has taken longer than expected, so an end to tyranny and a global democratic revolution may take longer than promised or expected."

To illustrate this point, Jowitt quoted President Bush from his second inaugural address: "that while we have been 'tested, we [are] not weary,' and then, fully in the spirit of Revelations, Bush argues that 'the great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations.'" Jowitt welcomes this new emphasis on endurance. Also, he noted the emergence of two ideas that appear to balance the policy of American military - based regime change. The first idea is that the United States will stand with those who, as the president put it, "stand for their liberty" not instead of them and the second is that "America will not impose our form of government on the unwilling." Jowitt, though, remains skeptical as to whether there has been a decisive shift in favor of endurance over a belief in the imminence of democratic change in the Middle East or elsewhere. He believes that the next four years will reflect an uneasy relation between the two as the president oscillates between urgency and patience in pursuit of his global democratic revolution. Most important, Jowitt warns, the administration needs to find a way to reconcile these two different inconsistent approaches. "Inconsistency on our part looks like unpredictability when viewed by others," Jowitt said, "not, for the most part, a recipe for success."