The G.W. Bush War on Terror and Wilsonianism

Oceane Imber


The US foreign policy driven by G.W Bush marked a deep shift in international relations. The concept of the « War on terror » and terrorism shaped the fight for global order since the attack of 9/11 and the military involvement of the USA in the Middle-East. The purpose of this research paper is to analyze in what ways Wilsonian theory provides an explanation of the "War on Terror" led by G.W. Bush. It raises the question of Bush's motivations for US involvement in the Middle-East. This research paper argues that the US decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein was part of a political program of Bush’s administration in order not only to promote the USA’s material and ideological interests, but because of the deeply rooted notion of American exceptionalism and the belief in a duty to spread democracy and peace. Indeed, the complex relation between realism and idealism characterizes US foreign policy. Through his policy, Bush emphasized the idea that democratization requires a military intervention which will be defined as an « armed Wilsonianism ». However, realist theory in the case of the War on Terror does not seem to provide strong enough evidence of Bush’s motives in such a conflict. In order to understand the political opposition that the war on terror represents it is central to emphasize the principle of the "just war" that was used by the Bush administration.


George W. Bush; Iraq; War on Terror

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