Every American president who comes to power spells out his foreign policy depending on the global political “climate” of the time he/she seizes power and his ideology. The foreign policy dogma that is constantly applied is generally termed as the presidential doctrine. All American presidents, from James Monroe to Barrack Obama, have created their own presidential doctrines upon which they base their foreign policy. James Monroe was the first American president to create a foremost foreign policy principle on the Second of December of 1823 (Jones, 1989). It was not until Theodore Roosevelt came to power that Monroe’s doctrine was significantly altered. However, this paper will only compare and contrast Truman doctrine with that of George Bush.
During the Truman reign, the United States foreign policy was that of halting the spread of communism, containment and hence stopping the growing influence of the USSR. This doctrine was spelled out by Truman during his address before Congress on the 12th of March 1947. Under this doctrine, the Truman administration was to provide military, financial and equipment to those countries resisting or were threatened by communism. According to Truman it was the United States’ duty to help free peoples fighting against suppression by external forces or internal armed minorities (Bostdorff, 2008). During his speech he specifically promised aid to Turkey and Greece. This policy was as a response by Truman administration to the possibility of Turkey and Greece falling under the influence of the USSR influence. Later the policy was employed universally as part of United States cold war strategy to provide backing to all countries threatened by the USSR and communism, like Korea and Vietnam. Central to Truman doctrine was the containment policy. This policy was designed by the National Security Council report 98 (Jones, 1989). On developing this doctrine the council assumed that the USSR was trying to spread its influence throughout the world and hence they were of the opinion that it was the United States responsibility to halt this by employing an active military approach of containment, therefore virtually moving from its former policy of isolationism. Therefore Truman’s doctrine was based on the fear of potential invasion of communism ideologically and physically and hence its primary goal was to stop this through the policy of containment.
The Bust doctrine was hatched following the 2001 September 11th terror attack in the United States. Following these attacks George Bush spelled out the United States’ foreign policy under his leadership. His doctrine was contained in the so called the United States’ National Security Strategy. Under this doctrine the United States foreign was based on three primary pillars preventive war, readiness to act unilaterally in case of failure of international consensus and unparalleled military mighty. For George Bush the earlier policy of based on deterrence was insufficient under the threat of terrorism and the grave danger of rogue nations developing and using biological, chemical and nuclear weapons against the United States and its interests throughout the world (Leffler &Legro, 2008).
Unlike earlier doctrines, like that of Truman, were based on containment and deterrence, the Bush doctrine was based on pre-emptive war aimed at destroying the enemy before attacking the United States. It is also important to note that whereas the Truman doctrine diplomacy in addition to enough military power to prevent attacks on US and its interests, the Bush doctrines relied solely on the US military mighty without consulting international community (Maszka, 2008). Under the Bush doctrine the United States had both political and moral reasons to carry out a pre-emptive strike against any terror group and any countries purported to be sponsoring or harbouring terrorism. This was the basis for both Iraq and Afghan wars. In later years the doctrine was expanded to include liberating people ruled by tyrants or doctorial regimes. For Bush it was the responsibility of the United States to promote democracy through regime changes in different parts of the world especially the Middle East. Both Bush and Truman doctrines were developed to stop the spread of certain ideologies; terrorism and communism respectively. That is both were designed at a time the United States felt its universal influence was under a threat.
Of the two doctrines, the Truman doctrine is simpler to follow as it has a clearly set out goal of stopping the spread of communism either ideological or physically unlike the Bust doctrine which has no clear goal. This is due to the fact that there is no clear definition of what Bush referred to as terrorism as this term may have different meanings to different people based on one’s ideology. It is important to note that unlike Truman doctrine which was based on a single policy of stopping communism from spreading, the Bush doctrine was based on a set of foreign policies like freedom, war against terrorism and war against weapons of mass destruction.
Terrorism is conceivably the most complex challenge that has faced not only the United States but the whole world in the 21st century. Despite it being researched, contemplated analyzed and debated by the world’s renowned brains there has been no consensus on its definition, cause and procedures for its containment. Unlike communism which had uniform ideology and conventional military, terrorism ideologies vary from one country and terror group to another. For instance there are those whose aim is attack America and its interests due to its support to Israel and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan to those against US sponsored governments in their homeland.
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