Lade Inhalt...

Perspectives and opportunities of the Obama government’s security and counterterrorism policy – Chances and ways to more success

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar) 2009 15 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Region: USA


Index of contents


1. Evaluation of the Bush administration

2. The program of the Obama administration
2.1. Barack Obama
2.2. Cabinet members

3. The policy shifts: chances and ways
3.1. Security policy
3.2. Counterterrorism policy
3.3. Further perspectives, opportunities, suggestions




On the 20th of January 2009 Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America. This seminar paper deals about the perspectives and opportunities the new president and his government have in security and counterterrorism policy. In the past years these two fields of policy have had a dominant role in the whole US policy. One can expect despite the difficult situation of US economy this status will remain.

In consequence the paper’s aim is to find out how the Obama government may be able to run a more successful security and counterterrorism policy than the Bush government. For this case an evaluation of the former administrations policy is necessary here. The evaluation will point out the failures of the Bush government and offer the tasks for the future policy guidelines. It will be Barack Obama´s challenge to correct the mistakes of his precursor. In addition to this he has to face the global threats with his own security and counterterrorism policy. Of course Obama knows about his future work in these cases. In his campaign program he offered different statements and solutions for security and counterterrorism policy tasks. An introduction and analysis of the program will provide the informative basis for naming the perspectives and opportunities. The analysis will be completed by an estimate for the policy options and own suggestions on facing the two policy areas.

Of course the national and the global economy will have a high priority for Barack Obama. But not only by the cases Afghanistan and Iraq security and counterterrorism policy will be a high-class topic for the new administration. The international community has high expectations on Barack Obama´s policy. George W. Bush has left his successor a mostly negative reputation in the world. The double challenge on Barack Obama will be to rebuild the global reputation of USA by concurrently making security policy and fighting terrorism. The question is if Obama will be able to handle the balancing act of rebuilding the reputation and fighting terrorism.

Obama has to find a coherent policy, which brings all the mentioned topics together. In chapter 3 the paper will name and evaluate ways to realize the balancing act into concrete policy. The next years will be asking for many important decisions. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Israel/Palestine and a lot more crisis issues call for answers by US security and counterterrorism policy. The problem for the new president is that he has to give the right answers in order to solve problems for a long term. Obama should have learnt by George W. Bush’s policy of the negative effects of short termed ideology driven policy.

1. Evaluation of the Bush administration

One of the best examples for the negative effects of George W. Bush’s policy was the plan of establishing a “Global Strike” system. This system should give the USA the possibility of pre-emptive air force or missile strikes (Cf.: Kristensen 2006: 3f.). The plan ignored the already existing global ability for the US forces to hit their enemies (Cf.: Shull 2005: 19ff.). Additionally these concepts are a proof for the introductions´ thesis George W. Bush’s security and counterterrorism policy was a short termed ideology driven one.

The global strike plan would not be able to substantially raise US military capacities. Its effects on the international reputation of the USA were of course measurably negative. Even threats would only be short term eliminated by an air or missile strike. A destroyed terror camp or a bombed weapons transport could be rather easily replaced. The enemy itself would still remain.

Also talking about the war on terrorism as a “battle of ideas” the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy 2006 (NSS) offered no concrete solutions (The White House 2006a: 9). By the NSS 2006 the war on terror should be won by promoting democracy (Cf.: The White House 2006a: 11). But concrete actions and plans how democracy should be established are missing. For these reason the instruments of democracy promotion by the Bush administration seem to keep the same as used in Iraq in 2003. Also there was no further US invasion after 2006 Bush’s policy from 2006 to 2008 generally proofs that. Even the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism 2006 (NSCT) has no concrete actions to offer how terrorism should be fought long termed by democracy promotion. But for the use of military force against global terrorism the NSCT 2006 provides an acceptable basis. The NSCT contains a list of different terrorist organization elements, which shall be denied or neutralized “through the use of all elements of national power” (The White House 2006b: 11ff.).

A concrete strategy for a long-term victory over terrorism is missing. This is the reason why under Bush terrorism was not defeated, Al Qaeda and Bin Laden still exist and Iraq and Afghanistan does not find peace. Combined with this US global reputation has suffered through parts of Bush’s policy like the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay.

The main aims of the Bush administrations security and counterterrorism policy were destroying Al Qaeda and the Taliban, capturing Osama bin Laden, stopping terrorism in Iraq, stopping promoting of weapons of mass destruction and promoting democracy. Altogether it can be stated Al Qaeda and the Taliban are still fighting. Osama bin Laden is still not captured. Terrorism in Iraq has dropped but it still exists. The nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea are still not definitely ended and the number of democracies on earth has not substantial increased. In conclusion it can be stated that Bush administration’s security and counterterrorism policy has mainly failed (Cf.: Power 2008: 37ff.).

The main failure of Bush was the decline of the US global reputation. With another counterterrorism and security policy success would have been more possible. On the one hand the USA as a global leading power are based on their military strength, but on the other hand the success of US policy depends on their global reputation. Other states and allies are more willing to follow a USA, which has a good global reputation. With reputation in decline less states and allies will be willing to follow the USA. So the USA will be less able to achieve their goals.

It will be on Barack Obama to re-establish the US reputation. The president will only be successful in security and counterterrorism policy when he can found his actions on a growing global reputation. George W. Bush showed Obama the way he should not enter.

2. The program of the Obama administration

The failures of the Bush administration were of course debated in the US public. Of course Barack Obama and John McCain took notice of this debate and the negative image. So McCain and Obama pointed out their distance to Bush and his policy. Both declared in their campaign and program how they would correct Bush failures. But both generally shared the opinion of the USA as the global leading country. Through the financial crisis security and counterterrorism policy will be a tough challenge (Rudolf 2008: 1).

After winning the election it will be on Barack Obama to face the challenges of security and counterterrorism under the named circumstances. To evaluate Obama´s chances for having more success than Bush it is essential to have a closer look at his program. But also important are the standpoints of the cabinet members, especially the secretary of state and the secretary of defence.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
415 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg – Institut für Politikwissenschaft und Sozialforschung
Perspectives Obama Chances US-Präsidentschaftswahlen Auswirkungen Internationale Politik Sicherheitspolitik



Titel: Perspectives and opportunities of the Obama government’s security and counterterrorism policy – Chances and ways to more success