President Bush, the War on Terror, and the Populist Tradition

Michael Foley

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3 Citations (SciVal)


Because American populism has traditionally been associated with indigenous themes and inward perspectives, it has never been thought to be particularly relevant to the United States' outlook upon the international order or its understanding of the generic requirements of foreign policy-making. However, recent developments surrounding the formulation and prosecution of the war on terror have cast doubts on this negative correlation. Using four thematic and analytical categories, the article reveals President Bush's close dependency upon characteristically populist principles in the way that the issue was presented to, and mediated with, the American public. It surveys the way that the Bush team employed populist narratives in advocating the need for alternative channels of international action outside both the customary agencies of collective security and the established conventions of international law. Although the usage of populist techniques was initially effective, the administration subsequently experienced some of the defects that have traditionally afflicted populism as an agency of political transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-691
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Politics
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • american exceptionalism
  • 'axis of evil'
  • 'coalition of the willing'
  • populism
  • United Nations
  • war on terror


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