Assessing the Foreign Policy of the Bush Administration
As National Security Advisor (NSA), Stephen Hadley is an asterisk. Juxtaposed against NSA predecessors such as Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice (with the advent of Marine four-star General James Jones as his successor), Hadley casts no shadow. In five years he may be too obscure for even a trivial pursuit question. This prospective oblivion is as predictable as was his presentation to the Center for Strategic and International Studies on January 7, 2009. Hadley marched through an everything-is-coming-up-roses, make-lemonade-of-lemons tour d'horizon of U.S. foreign policy accomplishments during the Bush administration. As such, it is a marker, akin to others that President Bush laid down during the final days of his administration, that puts administration foreign policy views on record in advance of the official hardcover presidential memoirs.
Structurally, the speech opens by demolishing a variety of straw men in stating that President Bush rejected "false choices" such as realism versus idealism; unilateralism versus multilateralism; hard versus soft power; and principle versus popularity. Then, Hadley reviews current circumstances, region/continent by region/continent, noting all the positives and/or suggesting that Bush administration efforts have positioned the Obama administration to resolve outstanding issues. Hadley thus predicts progress ranging from peace in the Middle East, to neutralizing the Iran nuclear program, to constraining North Korean nuclear weapons. He concluded by emphasizing effective efforts against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and global counter-terrorism action.
Obviously, it was not for Hadley to offer either apology or nuance. The Bush administration faces battalions of salivating critics, and a comprehensive, official "push back" provides useful perspective – perspective that history books presumably will also develop.
Ultimately, however, one hopes that NSA Hadley understood and appreciated, even if he rejected them, the strengths of the criticisms that have excoriated the administration and its foreign policy, and that such demurs were included in the analyses that the NSA presented to the president.