My research topic will be a comparison of President Bush’s and President Obama’s counterterrorism policies. While I have barely started the research process I have thus far found that Obama has largely continued Bush’s legal strategies and policy choices even though many people thought that during the campaign Obama would move in a completely different direction from his predecessor.
While counterterrorism policies and situations are very fluid and subject to constant refinement, it appears the broad contours of Obama’s national security choices are directly from the Bush doctrine. In my opinion, the assassination of Osama bin Laden was a tangible example of the similarities between the two administrations. On the surface, it was instructive that President Obama felt the moral obligation to call President Bush prior to the Navy SEALs mission. More importantly, the fact that Obama was so invested in capturing or killing bin Laden proves how linked the two administrations’ goals and priorities truly are.
My thesis will also attempt to prove that the similarities between the two presidents are not terribly surprising when one examines how Bush became more centrist and broke from Vice President Cheney’s extremely hawkish school of thought during his second term. Furthermore, because of Obama’s political philosophy, which favors deliberative democracy and a realpolitik style, it makes sense that Obama would be very calculating in which policies to maintain from past president’s instead of simply acquiescing to the liberal versus conservative binary that many expect lawmakers to follow.
As I write my paper, it will be interesting to view America’s national security policy history from a non-partisan perspective, which seems to rarely happen in academia and especially the news. As such, it will probably be difficult to keep my opinions repressed while researching this controversial topic.