Different Drummers, Same Drum

Despite the rhetoric, the new administration's foreign policy bespeaks not change, but continuity with the Clinton era.

Issue: Summer 2001

WHEN, on February 16, George W. Bush ordered combat aircraft to attack targets in Iraq, White House staffers let it be known that the new President was putting Baghdad on notice: In Washington, the "adults" had once again grasped the reins of power. The bombing of a handful of Iraqi air defense facilities was indeed an important signal, but not because it marked any notable departure from past practice. On the contrary, taken in conjunction with other early indicators, the incident suggests that when it comes to foreign policy, the new Bush administration will hew more closely to precedents established during the Clinton era than either its supporters had hoped or its detractors are likely to acknowledge. The emerging story is one of continuity, not change. Understanding why is crucial to comprehending the essential nature of American foreign policy after the Cold War.

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