From Realism to Liberalism

George W. Bush's Rhetorical Foreign Policy Transition, 1999-2004


  • Nathan R. Shrader



This article examines international relations rhetoric rather than foreign policy practice. Between the time of his acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination in August 2000 and his reelection in November 2004, George W. Bush changed his rhetorical focus from "realist" to "liberal internationalist" in an effort to sell his foreign policy agenda. This shift is identified through an analysis of nine presidential speeches and one excerpt from a book Bush wrote prior to becoming president. By exploring Bush's foreign policy pronouncements, the article reveals shifting patterns of presidential rhetoric and demonstates the importance of studying presidential rhetoric in international relations theory.