GWB:Firstly, I would like to thank you for the invitation to be a part of thiswonderful dialogue charting the last 16 years in the Geopolitical world sincethat awful day in September 2001, where so many innocent lives were taken. WhenI addressed the nation on the evening of September 11th, I sharedthe same feeling of overwhelming sadness and anger as every American watchingat home. America was directly targeted in an act of terrorism aiming to dim thebrightest beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world. (Bush: 2001).
I mustadmit I have read some your work and must echo your findings that anunanticipated attack on September 11th 2001 challenged theGeopolitical premises of American thinking fundamentally (Dalby: 2009).SD: Thank you Mr. President for yourparticipation in this talk allowing us to reflect on an ever-changinggeopolitical world that we find ourselves in. Through your own actionsAmerica’s foreign policy has been driven by a desire to avenge 9/11 (O’Tuathail:2003)within my field of Geopolitics, academics analysis how the world is “spatially”divided and how particular locations are sorted into a hierarchy of importance(Dalby: 2003).
SD: Proponents of my work associatedwithin geopolitics consider their research to be “Critical”. Such scholarsaddress how everyday geopolitical knowledge and understanding is used toenframe foreign policy conceptualization and decision making (O’Tuathail:1999)In particular from this evenings discussion I want to be able to betterunderstand your so-called “Bush Doctrine” subsequent war on terror and yourmotivations for your actions, and to further my research (Dalby: 2003) War talkeffectively silenced careful, needed reflection of the situation. I also wishto view your Presidency through a lens that the consequences of politicalactions in distant places has come back to haunt America. (Dalby: 2003)GWB: Enemies of freedom attacked ourway of life, I had a duty to protect citizens from further attacks. (Bush: 2001)I did not want my Presidency to be a “wartime” tenure (National Geographic:2011) instead I envisaged times of peace and great prosperity both economicallyand in terms of our own Foreign Policy. However, since this wonderful country’screation we had only experienced significant attacks in December 1941 at thehands of the evil empire of Japan.
I had a role as Commander in chief tocapture those ultimately responsible and to eradicate any foreign governmentsheltering such murderers (Bush: 2001), I wasn’t going to take cover behind “impermeableblocs” (Dalby: 2003) such an attack was an act of war (Bush: 2001) and for the firsttime in 70 years our nation was under attack. SD: There was a carefully organisedattack on New York City and Washington, allegedly a safe location withinAmerica, this was a direct spatial violation (Dalby: 2003) Surely this was atime for careful investigation as to the complex reasons behind the 9/11attacks instead your cabinet sought to “triumph of affect over intellect” (O’Tuathail:2003)I believe you had a pre-determined notion of the middle-east as “others” with themost powerful military in the world led by cabal of restless nationalists hellbent on an anti-intellectual culture of aggressive militarism and affect.(O’Tuathail:2003) But with your words, a new form of war had begun, one wherethe enemy isn’t clearly visible instead the whole globe had become a “potentialbattlefield” (Dalby: 2014) Many in your administration viewed the attacks in asweeping, simplistic and politically opportunistic manner. (O’Tuathail:2003) GWB: For toolong many countries and governments around the world tolerated and often turneda blind eye to oppression in the Middle East (Bush: 2004).
Americans are freepeople and they know that freedom is a right fundamental to every personregardless on religion or geographical location (Bush: 2003) the internationalworld needed to know that America was going to take a tough stance (Bush: 2001).Our new national security doctrine emphasized the truly global reach ofAmerican forces (Dalby: 2009) I stated that countries must either be supportiveof our war on terror or against it. America would make no distinction betweenterrorist who committed these awful attacks or the governments that harbourthem. (Bush: 2001) Leaders from all over the world condemned the attackincluding, British Prime minister and a close ally of America, Tony Blair,echoed my thoughts that it was an attack on freedom. SD: I believe you were greatly surprised by suchan attack and the severity of it the borderless world.
Your nation,geographically isolated with friendly domestic neighbours, with uncontestedborders both north and south. Coupled with two vast oceans to the East andWest, your administration could be forgiven for not spending vast amountdomestically against foreign threats. (Dalby: 2009) Your great friend TonyBlair also used geopolitical language to enflame the situation, using geopoliticalrhetoric he specified matters in terms of a war of democracy versus the rest. (Dalby:2003) This could be viewed In the Middle East as inflammatory, however as soonas the attacks occurred isolationist sentiments in your administration collapsed.
(Dalby: 2003) Your own Quadrennial Defence Report in 2006 concluded that”Geographic insularity no longer confers for the country” (QDR: 2006:p26)strategists believe the country will be militarily engaged. (Dalby:2009)GWB: As youstated, I had to shape the political world instead of waiting for hostileforces to emerge. (Dalby: 2009) French President Jacques Chirac, proclaimed thatFrance would stand aside in a fight against a scourge that defies alldemocracies (Time:2014) His comments brought the global context, when stating thatthe attack of tomorrow may in fact take place in Paris, Berlin or London. Therewas a new kind of war, global war on terror, terrorists were hiding incountries around the world to plot evil and destruction. (Bush: 2001) Ourenemies viewed the entire world as a battlefield (Bush: 2001) our own capitalcity felt like a warzone (National Geographic: 2011) Even the French newspaper LaMonde embraced the tragedy of the attacks when running their headline, “We areall Americans now”.SD: Yourreasoning behind a label of “Global war on terror” is interesting instead ofseeking to enhance international diplomacy and seek the arrest and subsequenttrial of terrorists you opened up the world to be viewed as battle spaces,targets and sites for regime changes. (Dalby: 2010) An almost reinvention ofimperial warfare, American forces were designed to fight battles fought withlarge armies and a visible known enemy rather than a counter-insurgency effort.
(Dalby: 2009) From one spectacular violation of American sovereignty the globewas turned into a combat-zone in the updated map of American combatantcommander’s area of responsibility, (Dalby: 2007) thus enabling your dominanceover terrorist you see as “evildoers” This effectively meant you were seekingan imperial presidency by providing the necessity to build ever more capableweapon systems and bases in many parts of the world. (Dalby: 2007) GWB: Istrongly refute those claims, those who have written to critique your work suchas (Squire: 2014) believe your work is an engagement with representationalpractices of statecraft. (Thrift: 2000) agrees that there is limitations torepresentational focus and (Muller: 2008) agrees with his proponents that thefield of field of critical geopolitics in undertheorized. Critiques establishthere needs to be a movement to focus on textual and bodily practicesassociated with “Geopower.”(Dodds: 2001) My actions were a fight for the causeof liberty and peace of the world.
(Bush: 2003) The common security of theworld is challenged (Bush: 2002) outlawed groups such as Al Qaeda challenge ourdemocratic principles and my biggest fear was that they would find a shortcutto kill on a massive scale (Bush: 2002). (Megoran: 2008) critiqued criticalgeopolitics by stating that your field of research provides a weak normative engagementwith social institutions and practices of warfare. SD: (Barnett:2007)attempted to classify the world according to the cartography of safety anddanger and found that there was a “core” of liberal democracies and a “Gap”where American Foreign policy was evidently active and aggressive, againimplying your intent on creating a dominant superpower. More pressingly was theapparent use of so called “Tabloid realism”, a so-called manipulation of publicoutrage. (O’Tuathail:2003) There was a projection of pain across Americantelevision, Geopolitics was used to invoke fear and pain.
(Pain: 2009) Suchimages motivated Americans against the “terrorists” and gave you thejustification for you classifying regions crying out for American help. GWB: I findit almost laughable that you highlight Thomas Barnett’s cartography of theworld, this simplistic view has separated the world along old, “mackinderesque”(Haverluk et al: 2014) lines. I didn’t seek to build a great American empirespanning the globe, instead simply I aimed to win the war on terrorism (Bush:2001).
I had a duty to destroy the “Axis of evil” (Bush; 2002) take downtyrannical regimes and ensure our nation is more secure (Bush: 2003). Tosuggest that I sought to instigate the war on terror through “tabloidgeopolitics”(Debrix:2007) is deeplyoffensive, in fact it was your own research you suggest it is very hard tospecify a war on terror as it is truly global. The language of myadministration was truthful and we had a duty to tell the American people whatwas going on. SD: I mustdisagree, ever since 9/11 American foreign policy has been driven by a desireto avenge the attacks and seeking to assert America as the dominant superpowerin the world (O’tuathail:2003). You sought to create an American dominantsuperpower, you remapped the world into categories of the Bush Doctrine and itsglobal war on terror (Dalby: 2009). I fail to understand how a small number ofSaudi dissidents who hijacked planes and crashed them into the world tradecentre required a “global war” response was far from clear (Dalby:2009).
TheGeopolitical discourse of the Bush administration and legitimacy of its actionswere questioned. (O’tuathail:2003).GWB: We muststop here, we will always see the geopolitical world along different lines.