The GulfThe Bush Presidencies and the Middle East

The GulfThe Bush Presidencies and the Middle East

Michael F. Cairo

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780813136721

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


Despite the appearance of familiar faces in both Bush administrations, significant differences existed between the foreign policies of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. The Gulf refers to these differences and argues that they can be explained by the personal beliefs and styles of each George Bush. Describing George H.W. Bush as an “enlightened” realist and George W. Bush as a “cowboy” liberal, the book begins by exploring the life experiences that contributed to each president’s belief system. Comparing and contrasting each president throughout, it focuses on each administration’s policy in the Middle East, with specific attention given to the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Madrid Peace Conference, and the Road Map for peace. The book suggests that presidents rarely fit into a realist or liberal model and combines the two approaches to explain presidential worldviews. George H.W. Bush’s emphasis on defensive rather than offensive strategies, and international organizations rather than the power of democracy to foster peace and stability, combine to create an “enlightened” realist worldview. George W. Bush’s emphasis on offensive strategies and the power of democracy to foster peace and stability combine to create the “cowboy” liberal worldview. The book concludes by offering general and specific lessons illuminated by the cases. Suggesting that the study is more than an isolated comparison of the Bushes, the book offers examples of the importance of understanding presidential leadership styles and worldviews.