MOSCOW. (Ph. D. Galina Zevelyova (Economics) for RIA Novosti) - George W. Bush's latest State of the Union Address was the least ambitious and the most reconciliatory and modest of the seven he made. It showed that the U.S. president still believes in the U.S. economy but has lost his faith in America's ability to rearrange the world.
There is little hope that before the next elections he will deal with the economic problems aggravated by the mortgage crisis and stock exchange turmoil, or resolve the Iraqi predicament, which he himself created. The majority of Americans believe that Bush's legacy consists of a weaker position for the U.S. in the world arena, an ailing economy and discredited messianic ideas of promoting U.S.-style democracy. It is no surprise that the main candidates for the Republican presidential nominee are trying to distance themselves from the highly unpopular president, whose approval rating has now dropped to 30%.
In his address, Bush concentrated on the economy like he did in his first report in 2001 after his inauguration (technically it was not considered a State of the Union address). He suggested old recipes to cure the economy - cutting taxes and interest rates. Critics are telling Bush that these measures can only revive the economy for a short while and will aggravate its imbalance in the long-term because they lead to cheaper credits and the accumulation of bigger debts.
As distinct from the economy, Bush's foreign policy doctrine has undergone major changes. It has become less ideological and more realistic. The president's address confirmed that affiliation with a particular party, which largely determines a difference in approach to socio-economic problems, is not so important for foreign policy. In this case, the division line passes not between Republicans and Democrats, but between realists and ideologists.
When Bush came to power, he was described as a pragmatic isolationist. But everything changed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, which compelled him to realize that America is closely linked with the outside world. In his State of the Union address in early 2002, Bush announced that the "nation was at war" and justified military action in Afghanistan by the need to fight terrorism.
In his following addresses in 2003 and 2004, he continued to stick to the unilateral use of force. He was persuading Congress to start a military campaign in Iraq, and later on defended his decision to unleash war. The United States was deliberately destroying the established system of international security, which was seen as an obstacle to unilateral action.
In his State of the Union address in 2005, after his second victory in the presidential elections, Bush formulated a new program of "freedom" and "democratization of the world." He needed it in order to counter the growing criticism of the Iraqi war. By that time it had become clear that Saddam Hussein did not have any weapons of mass destruction, and Bush had found a new excuse for the military mission - the struggle against tyranny and dissemination of democracy in Iraq as a model for other Middle East "dictatorships" to follow.
Bush proclaimed that freedom was the main weapon in war against terror. He is still upholding this idea, repeating that only democratization of "dictatorships" can guarantee genuine peace because democracies do not fight each other.
He voiced these ideas in his State on the Union addresses in 2006 and 2007. Bush kept this rhetoric in his recent address: "We support freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma," and praised citizens in Georgia and Ukraine for standing up "for their right to free and fair elections." But if before the U.S. president said that America should "put an end to tyranny" all over the world, this time he modestly said that it is "spreading the hope of freedom."