Access Type

Online access to this book is only available to eligible users.



Download Full Text (2.8 MB)


The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, shattered the prevalent optimism in the United States that had blossomed during the tranquil and prosperous 1990s, when democracy seemed triumphant and catastrophic wars were a relic of the past. President George W. Bush responded with a bold and controversial grand strategy for waging a preemptive Global War on Terror, which has ignited passionate debate about the purposes of American power and the nation's proper role in the world. This book offers a vigorous argument for the principles of moral democratic realism that inspired the Bush administration's policy of regime change in Iraq. The Bush Doctrine rests on two main pillars—the inadequacy of deterrence and containment strategies when dealing with terrorists and rogue regimes, and the culture of tyranny in the Middle East, which spawns aggressive secular and religious despotisms. Two key premises shape the book's case for the Bush Doctrine's conformity with moral democratic realism. The first is the fundamental purpose of American foreign policy since its inception: to ensure the integrity and vitality of a free society “founded upon the dignity and worth of the individual.” The second premise is that the cardinal virtue of prudence (the right reason about things to be done) must be the standard for determining the best practicable American grand strategy. This book provides a broader historical context for the post-September 11 American foreign policy that will transform world politics well into the future. The book connects the Bush Doctrine and current issues in American foreign policy, such as how the U.S. should deal with China, to the deeper tradition of American diplomacy. Drawing from positive lessons as well as cautionary tales from the past, the book concludes that moral democratic realism offers the most compelling framework for American grand strategy, as it expands the democratic zone of peace and minimizes the number and gravity of threats the United States faces in the modern world.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY




978-0-8131-7220-0 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-3857-2 (epub version)



Terrorist attacks, September 11, George W. Bush, Global War on Terror, The Bush Doctrine, Middle East, Moral democratic realism, American foreign policy


American Politics | Political History | United States History

In Defense of the Bush Doctrine
Read Sample Off-campus Download for UK only

Consortium members may access while on their campus.