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Analysis, and Critique of Foreign Policies of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush

This paper explains the historical perspectives of, analyzes, and critiques the foreign policies of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush during their tenure. The paper accomplishes this goal by discussing the historical perspective of the period when each policy was implemented or discussed. The paper then analyzes the political, social, and economic environments for the period of the discussion or implementation of each policy, and concludes by a critique of the effectiveness of each policy in relation to the time of its implementation or discussion. These areas are addressed in the subheadings below:

President George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy

President George W. Bush’s foreign policy for the United States existed between 2001 and 2009. Bush’s foreign policy, which came to be known as the Bush Doctrine, was informed by the terrorist attack executed against the US on September 11, 2001 (LeoGrande, 2015). These attacks led to the coining of a novel foreign policy approach that focused on three primary actions. The first action was the deterrence of any potential attacker. The second action was unilateral undertaking in which the U.S would act alone when need be to safeguard itself abroad or at home (LeoGrande, 2015). The third point focused on the spreading of freedom and democracy around the world by embracing concepts such as individual liberty, free trade, and free market.

President Bush’s foreign policy was accompanied by certain impacts on the political, social, and economic environments.  The political climate during Bush’ regime was tense, as his administration heightened the military power to eradicate threats of terrorism whether in Iraq or Afghanistan. The focus of military power was on the spread of democracy across the world even if it meant by use of force (Choudhury, 2015). As such, Bush’s foreign policy was considered overly aggressive by the French and British allies. Nonetheless, despite being reliant on military action, the Bush administration largely managed to ensure political stability in the global arena. Socially, the U.S lived in isolation from other nations that feared its militaristic foreign policy. Besides, the U.S citizens considered he Bush regime unconcerned with their domestic affairs. The economic climate was not favourable despite calls for free trade and free market, as the Bush’s regime increased taxes and military spending (Choudhury, 2015). This regime was constrained by limited federal revenues for funding programs, and large budget deficit among other issues.

Whereas the foreign policy implemented by Bush’s administration was effective enhancing political stability within the global area, its effectiveness was limited to certain nations such as Sudan where a humanitarian continues to date. This policy also proved ineffective in curbing threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear program (LeoGrande, 2015). President Bush’s foreign policy was also ineffective in establishing social cohesion with many nations across the globe.

President Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy

President Barack Obama commenced his regime believing that his predecessor, President George W. Bush, had overstretched in the world, especially in his global war conduct on terrorism. Persuaded that the U.S was strained and stood alone on the global stage, Obama coined a foreign policy focusing on ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and regaining the world’s trust (Nuruzzaman, 2015). Obama’s foreign emphasized the significance of sharing more of responsibilities and burdens of global leadership with other nations. As a result, the Obama regime coined a foreign policy that limited dependence on large-scale military action and increased cooperation with other countries.

President’s Obama foreign policy impacted the political, social, and economic environments in certain ways. In relation to the political environment, Obama’s foreign policy was widely embraced by U.S friends and allies abroad. Favorable opinions of the role of America in the world rose steadily and generally maintained such as a rise during President Obama’s tenure. The social environment was also calm, as the U.S had engaged in several internal treaties and alliances. For instance, the Obama administration reinforced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by placing all the U.S troops within Afghanistan under the command of this organization (Nuruzzaman, 2015). Besides, the Obama regime established robust alliances with South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, and other nations in Southeast Asia. In relation to the economic setting during Obama’s tenure, the nation was not adversely impacted by the second Great Depression in 2009 despite tottering on the edge of economic upheaval (Krieg, 2016). When it comes to the political setting within the US, calmness was experienced owing to the fact that the nation minimized its troop commitment, as opposed to launching further wars. This situation was experienced amidst calls for more hostile military action. President Obama’s foreign policy fostered robust economic ties with Asia, which his regime considered economically most significant region.

Even though President Obama’s foreign policy was largely effective in relation to the economic, social, and political issues, its ineffectiveness was evident in certain areas. For example, this foreign policy was associated with limited exercise of military action by the U.S, which in turn resulted in nations such as Syria becoming a humanitarian nightmare and Vladimir Putin returning as Russian strongman, who invaded neighbors and flexed his military muscle within the Middle East and beyond (Krieg, 2016). Furthermore, as in the case of the Bush regime, the Obama administration could not address the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, as well as the North Korea’s nuclear program.

In conclusion, the foreign policies of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush were established in different historical context, and had different impacts on the economic, political, and social environments. These policies were also effective and ineffective in different some areas, as discussed in the paper.


















Choudhury, M. P. (2015). The Sacred and the Secular: Influence of Religion on George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy. Jadavpur Journal of International Relations19(2), 159-183.

Krieg, A. (2016). Externalizing the burden of war: the Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East. International Affairs92(1), 97-113.

LeoGrande, W. M. (2015). Normalizing US—Cuba relations: escaping the shackles of the past. International Affairs91(3), 473-488.

Nuruzzaman, M. (2015). President obama’s middle east policy, 2009-2013.Insight Turkey, 17(1), 171-190. Retrieved from