The Ambassadors REVIEW
The Bush Administration’s Legacy
Secretary of State
hat will be the legacy of the Bush administration? That is a question that
will surely occupy historians for decades to come, and it will likely be
the topic of many doctoral dissertations—some of which I imagine I will
even supervise upon returning to Stanford on January 20, 2009. Still, we can say a few
things about this question now.
This is an administration that had the challenge of serving at one of the most
transformational times in recent memory. It is a time that has seen the tectonic plates of the
international system shift considerably. It is a time that has seen many nations at once
rising to new positions of global power and influence, especially in Asia. It is a time in
which the old order in the Middle East has come apart and a different, better set of bargains
is being slowly but surely put in place. And it is a time that saw the most horrific attack on
the American homeland in our nation’s history—an instance of strategic surprise in which
our administration was compelled to rethink what constituted challenge and what might
emerge as opportunity.
These are sweeping, historical challenges, and securing the United States and
furthering our global leadership in this rapidly changing world will be the work of a
generation. Success will require the concerted effort of many administrations, but I am
administration has laid a foundation upon which future US leaders, both
Republican and Democratic, will be able to work over time to support the growth of an
international order that protects our interests and reflects our values.
This international order must rest, as all others before it have, on a base of
constructive relationships between powerful and influential states—states with which we
can work in concert to solve common global problems—and our administration has made a
significant contribution to that effort.
We have begun to transform the transatlantic alliance. Twelve of the 28 NATO
allies are now former captive nations, which is changing the character of the alliance. We
also have expanded our alliance’s mission to not only secure and strengthen a Europe
whole, free, and at peace, but also to promote our shared ideals in places as different as
Georgia, Sudan, Iraq, and perhaps most significantly, Afghanistan.
We have begun to transform our traditional alliances with democratic powers in
Asia like Japan, South Korea, and Australia—making our partnerships platforms not only
for our common regional defense, but also for tackling the global challenges of the 21
century: expanding trade and development, fighting terrorism and proliferation, fostering
energy security, stemming climate change, and defending freedom and democracy.