CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

How the Influence of Religion Makes the Foreign Policy of the Bush Administration Revolutionary, and How This Has Affected Our Relations with European Allies

Alexandra Kougentakis, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Anne Norton

Date of this Version: 01 May 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.



It is widely recognized that the rhetoric and actions of the Bush administration are strongly marked by religious terminology and principles, particularly those o evangelical Christianity. The prominence and new political sophistication of religious groups imply that its current character is a departure from the past. Yet while religious conservatives are seen as a significant force in domestic and electoral politics, their influence in the arena of foreign policy is not generally a topic of serious debate. The omission is significant; not only do domestic politics often influence the direction of foreign policy, but in the case of the religious wing of the Republican Party, there have recently been a considerable number of direct statements and positions taken with regard to international issues. The evidence that there is a political effect from the Christian evangelicals is seen in the fact that their positions have frequently been reflected by US foreign policy under the Bush administration, particularly the policies on terrorism and Iraq. More often the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party tends to be given credit for these policies, but their collaboration with religious conservatives is not often considered. One of the purposes of this thesis will be to demonstrate the alliance between these two factions. My argument that ideology, both religious and political, has been instrumental to the foreign policy of the Bush administration, will be demonstrated trough a comparison of he political dimensions of these ideologies, the examination of key administration figures, and a critical assessment of alternative argument that discounts the importance of ideology.

While American scholarship may be relatively unimpressed by arguments regarding the significance of the religious influence on the foreign policy arena, however, policy-makers and intellectuals in several of our traditional European allies are far less skeptical. Statements directly regarding the political influence of religious conservatives as well as the differing attitudes and policies towards religion may shed light on the various responses towards the US invasion of Iraq. Contributing to the differences on religion are the unique foreign policy traditions in Europe as they developed during the 20th century. Reductionism and a US-centric perspective have hindered a strong analysis of the different reactions. The evolution of foreign policy in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain following World War II will be used to discuss for an evaluation of the broader impact that US policy in Iraq, and the political influence of religion in America more generally, may have for future relations.



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