Finding a Foreign Policy

The events of September 11, 2001, transformed George W. Bush’s presidency and with it American foreign policy. Within weeks, the president and Secretary of State Colin Powell organized an international coalition to wage war on “a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.” Powell also began the pursuit of new opportunities in U.S. relations with Russia, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and South Asian affairs. All of this was in dramatic contrast to Washington’s slow start earlier in the year.

The Bush administration had found a foreign policy, one that sought not only to facilitate the war but also to change vital international relationships in the process. This marked both a sudden coming of age for the inexperienced president and broad American recognition that the post–Cold War era had ended. There was a new war to be won and a new peace to be secured.

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