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This chapter examines U.S. foreign policy debates and policy management under the direction of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It first provides an overview of post-Cold War American internationalism before discussing the so-called ‘Kennan sweepstakes’: a conscious effort to find a post-Soviet statement of purpose to rival George Kennan’s early Cold War concept of ‘containment’ of communism. It then considers U.S. foreign policy making in the new order and in the post-Cold War era. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations wrestled with the problem of deciding on a clear, publicly defensible, strategy for U.S. foreign policy in the new era. Clinton’s first term was dominated by free trade agendas and by efforts to operationalize the policy of ‘selective engagement’, while his second term involved a noticeable turn towards unilateralism and remilitarization. The New World Order was Bush’s main contribution to thinking beyond the Cold War.

Chapter

This chapter examines how the external environment of US foreign policy and internal pressures on policy makers both shifted radically in the 1990s. Internationally, the ‘long 1990s’ were characterized by intense democratic possibility. Yet they were also years of atavistic negativity and irrationality, as seen in Rwanda and Bosnia. Two questions arise: First, how should the United States respond to a world which was apparently both rapidly integrating and rapidly disintegrating? Second, was it inevitable, desirable, or even possible that the US should provide global leadership? Before discussing various approaches to these questions, the chapter considers the wider international environment of apparent unipolarity and globalization. It also analyzes the development of American foreign policy under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, focusing in particular on the so-called ‘Kennan sweepstakes’ during the first year of Clinton’s presidency as well as Clinton’s turn towards unilateralism and remilitarization.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the predominance of the US and the search for order in the post-Cold War period. George H. W. Bush, who came to power in January 1989, concentrated on world affairs and had a series of foreign successes before the end of 1991. Bush’s cautious, pragmatic, approach carried both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, he escaped any major disasters abroad and avoided antagonizing the Soviet Union or rekindling the Cold War. On the other, he seemed to be undynamic and at the mercy of events—he failed to provide a sense of overall direction to US foreign policy once the Cold War ended. The chapter first considers US foreign policy in the 1990s, before discussing the Gulf War of 1990–1, US–Soviet relations in the 1990s, US policy towards the ‘rogue states’ during the time of Bill Clinton, and ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Somalia and Haiti.