In Mackubins Thomas Owens’ article, Realism, Iraq and the Bush Doctrine, a clarification was given insofar as realist theory is concerned in the context of the publication of the Iraqi Study Group report which recommended that the United States find common grounds with Iran and Syria in ensuring political stability in Iraq and the entire Middle East as well. Prior to a discussion on the main points of the article, Owens clearly delineated realist theory and its variants, where realism takes primacy on the importance of power and military security in international affairs. Most important of these variants are the structural realists that contend that since states have no common superior, they are the primary determinants for their own security needs, in which at the end of the day, states shall take steps necessary for its survival.
Nonetheless, the wide-ranging criticism on the Bush Doctrine, even from the ranks of the traditional realists is due to the possibility of an anti-hegemonic balancing act by other states in response to its exercise of military might. Nothing of this sort has occurred in the last few years of American occupation in Iraq, which leads us to surmise that the occupation in itself by the Americans is seen as consistent with the interests of other international state actors. On the other hand, realists seemed to fail to distinguish between the United States and other states that does not share the former’s brand of liberal democracy, as the issues of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are far more pressing issues to consider and resolve than the need to repudiate Bush’s so-called neoconservative doctrine. Some realists are also erred in asserting that American foreign policy is being compromised in favor of Israeli foreign policy. This assertion is very far-fetched and denigrates from the very concept of realism which relies exclusively on the international balance of power in its foreign policy decisions.
In all of these, a discussion now of the much maligned theory of neo-conservatism is paramount in discussing the flaws of realism in assessing the problems in Iraq and the current international balance of power. Neo-conservatives do not simply assess the international balance of power on its face, but analyze the internal workings of regimes across the globe as well, notwithstanding the necessity of articulating the deepest values of a liberal democracy in one’s foreign policy. Actually, the Bush doctrine is even a variant of realism as its role as the world’s current hegemonic power holds the peace and prosperity in the world in place as it is seen as a power that provides the world with collective economic stability and international security. It has also been said that if the hegemonic stability of the world is disrupted, the more dangerous it shall be for the world, deriving from the historical lessons of the disintegration of the hegemonic power of Britain a century ago that has led to economic depressions and world wars. It must not be misconstrued though that American hegemonic power is a go-it-alone approach that ignores international institutions and intimidates both friends and allies, among others. American foreign policy carries with it a benevolent principle that US power is good not only for itself but for the rest of the world, harping on the familiar line that the US can only be secure once the rest of the world is secure. More so, the American goal of expanding democracy around the world is consistent with the principle that the security of a state is more enhanced if it is surrounded by other states with similar principles, interests and goals. President Bush himself said that America will always be more secure when freedom is on the march than on retreat.