International Politics

, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 561–582 | Cite as

Bush the transnationalist: a reappraisal of the unilateralist impulse in US foreign policy, 2001–2009

  • Maria Ryan
Original Article


This article challenges the common characterization of George W. Bush’s foreign policy as ‘unilateral’. It argues that the Bush administration developed a new post-9/11 understanding of terrorism as a transnational, networked phenomenon shaped by the forces of globalization. This led to a new strategic emphasis on bi- and multilateral security cooperation and counterterrorism operations, especially outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, driven by the perceived need to counter a transnational security challenge present in multiple locations. This (flawed) attempt to engage with transnational security challenges supplemented the existing internationalist pillar of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Highlighting the transnational realm of international relations and the ways in which the Bush administration was able to co-opt other states to tackle perceived transnational challenges also shows the high importance the administration attached to concerted action even as it frequented eschewed institutional multilateralism.


Bush Transnationalism Strategy Multilateralism Bilateralism Security cooperation 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of American and Canadian Studies University of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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