The Future of Liberal Internationalism
were.” But as the Iraq war turned into a protracted and costly struggle, both the rationale for the American presence in Iraq and the aim of the war on terrorism shifted substantially. The Iraq war was less about relin- quishing Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction than about bringing free- dom and democracy to the Middle East. Likewise, the war on terrorism slowly became less a battle against evil than a struggle to overturn tyranny. This was the theme of Bush’s Second Inaugural address, in which the president said that only the “force of human freedom” could “break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and the tolerant . . .” The underlying argu- ment was given more elaboration several weeks later in Bush’s State of the Union address. “In the long run,” he said, “the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideolo- gies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America.”13
The Bush administration had moved from ghting “evil” to combating the socioeconomic conditions that encouraged terrorism. The implica- tion was that the United States would not just need to use military force to destroy terrorists but to engage in a long-term transformation agenda aimed at overturning tyranny and spreading freedom and democracy. De- mocracy promotion and American national security were one and the same. This new emphasis on ending tyranny t with the larger global role of the United States. It would not merely be the world’s policeman; it would be the vanguard force that would extend the reach of liberty and democracy into troubled regions. America was doing the world a favor by taking the lead—but its mission was tied directly to creating a safer and more secure environment for the United States. In effect, America would not be safe until the world was fully democratic. As Robert Jervis has noted, Bush was going beyond the Wilsonian vision. Woodrow Wilson wanted to make the world safe for democracy. George Bush wanted to “make the world democratic so the United States could be safe.”14 In ef- fect, Bush was pessimistic that democracy will triumph over tyranny with- out the exertion of American power—including use of force—and opti- mistic that the resulting democratic transitions will create the conditions for stable peace.