Democratic Vanguardism: Modernity, Intervention and the making of the Bush Doctrine
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 transformed the way in which Americans and their leaders viewed the world. The tragic events of that day helped give rise to a foreign policy strategy commonly referred to as the “Bush Doctrine.” At the heart of this doctrine lay a series of propositions about the need to foster liberal democracy as the antidote to terrorism. President George W. Bush proclaimed in a variety of addresses that democracy now represented the “single surviving model” of political life to which all people aspired. In the course of making this argument, President Bush seemed to relate his policies to an overarching “teleology” of progress. This discourse implied that the United States might use force to hasten the emergence of liberal norms and institutions in selected states. With a sense of irony, some commentators soon referred to the Bush administration’s position as “Leninist” because of its determination to bring about the so-called “end of history” today. Yet, surprisingly, these critics had little more to add. This thesis is an attempt to assess in greater depth the Bush administration’s claim to comprehend historical eschatology. Developing a concept termed “democratic vanguardism,” this study investigates the idea of liberal modernity, the role of the United States as a force for democracy, and the implications of using military intervention in the service of idealistic ends. It examines disputes among political theorists, public intellectuals and elected statesmen which help to enrich our understanding of the United States’ efforts under President Bush at bending history to its will.