Haas, Mark L. “Missed Ideological Opportunities and George W. Bush’s Middle Eastern Policies.” Security Studies 21.3 (2012): 416-54.
Numerous analysts have criticized George W. Bush’s Middle Eastern policies for their strong ideological content. This article agrees with a core premise of these critiques, but it does so for very different reasons from most analyses. Ideological rigidity on some issues, paradoxically, prevented the Bush administration from taking advantage of the full range of ways in which ideologies shape international relations. There were three major opportunities to advance US interests in the Middle East during Bush’s presidency that were created by the effects of ideologies. First, liberalizing parties in otherwise illiberal regimes tended to be significantly more supportive of US interests than other ideological groups in the same country at the same time. Second, major ideological differences among different types of illiberal enemies of the United States enhanced America’s ability to adopt “wedge” strategies toward various hostile coalitions. Finally, the existence of different types of ideological enemies in the Middle East created incentives for some illiberals to align with the United States because of mutual ideological enmity for a third ideological group. The Bush administration, however, failed at key times to take advantage of these openings. If Bush administration officials had been less ideologically dogmatic while, somewhat paradoxically, making better strategic use of ideologies’ major international effects, America’s security would have been significantly advanced in critical cases.