Famed political scientist speaks on Bush doctrine

By Gus Bode

The war in Iraq is only the first stop according to political scientist John Mearsheimer, who spoke to a full Student Center Auditorium Monday night. If the United States continues on into Iran, many of those in the audience would be drafted, he said.

Mearsheimer spoke about the Bush doctrine and the war in Iraq as part of the Morton-Kenney Public Affairs Lecture Series.

“He is very well-known,” said Christy Stewart, the academic adviser in political science. “He’s a face you’d see on CNN.”


Mearsheimer, a professor of political science and co-director of the program on international security policy at the University of Chicago, has written three books and numerous articles about international politics in general.

“The basic argument I want to make is that the Bush doctrine has crashed and burned in Iraq,” Mearsheimer said.

He pointed out that Bush ran in 2000 on the platform that the United States had been too ambitious in terms of international politics and that the United States needed to restore alliances throughout the world. Yet, after entering office, Bush changed his original policy completely, he said.

“Bush adopted a fundamentally different policy,” Mearsheimer said. “And that policy is known as the Bush doctrine.”

Mearsheimer said the Bush doctrine encompasses three elements:unilateralism, big-stick diplomacy and regional transformation. Mearsheimer explained his thoughts about each element and its relation to Iraq.

“Unilateralism is avoiding international institutions like United Nations and NATO,” Mearsheimer said.

The United States’ preemptive strike on Iraq is encompassed by the big-stick diplomacy ideal, he said. This means the United States is willing to use military force.


“Spreading democracy at the end of a gun barrel is almost guaranteed to work against democracy, not for it,” Mearsheimer said.

The final element of the Bush doctrine that Mearsheimer outlined was regional transformation, which he said is the idea the United States is going to transform the Middle East.

Mearsheimer explained that he doesn’t necessarily disagree with the concept of attacking Iraq. If it had been a swift and quick attack, he would not have opposed it because he agrees with Bush that Saddam Hussein was a murderous thug. However, he said the United States is now stuck.

“The North Koreans are constantly giving us the finger, and we are doing nothing,” Mearsheimer said. “Why? Because we are stuck in the quicksand of Iraq.”

In his opinion, there are two places in the world the United States should really worry about:the former Soviet Union and Pakistan. But the conflict in Iraq will affect how the United States will handle the situation, Mearsheimer said.

“We’re going to put the sword back in the sheath,” Mearsheimer said. “Generally, we are going to be more humble because we’ve been badly burned in Iraq.”

He ended his lecture with the conclusion that though there can be arguments made for and against the invasion in Iraq, he said he believes it was not worth it in the end.

“My argument in invading Iraq is that the costs outweighed the benefits,” Mearsheimer said. “We’ve greatly damaged our position throughout the world.”

Reporter Laura Teegarden can be reached at [email protected]