Transformational Leadership and U.S. Grand Strategy

Courtesy Reuters


George W. Bush likes to boast that he does not play "small ball." The Economist describes him as "obsessed by the idea of being a 'transformational' president: not just a status-quo operator like Bill Clinton but a man who changes the direction of history." But will he become that man?

Bush's bid for a legacy of transformation rests on the three major changes he made to U.S. grand strategy after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: reducing Washington's reliance on permanent alliances and international institutions, expanding the traditional right of preemption into a new doctrine of preventive war, and advocating coercive democratization as a solution to Middle Eastern terrorism. Those changes, codified in the 2002 National Security Strategy, were widely understood as revolutionary at the time. The British journalist Philip Stephens, for example, wrote in March 2003 that he felt as if he were "present at the

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