Bush scores well on India and China, less so for Iran, N. Korea
Other key foreign-policy moves include his decision to boost aid for fighting AIDS in Africa.
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"You have to say he handled an emerging China pretty well, particularly after he abandoned the word 'competition' that he used early on," says former US Rep. Lee Hamilton, now president of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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Relations with Russia, though, deteriorated during the Bush years. Some see the US sliding into an ideological, confrontational posture that may end up harming US national interests in areas such as nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear-materials management, Iran, and the Middle East.
"Some of these problems pose an existential threat to America, but apparently the Bush administration decided it was more important to confront Russia over NATO expansion and radar in Eastern Europe than to encourage their cooperation with us," says Susan Eisenhower, a national-security analyst.
American arrogance about its transformational powers, which "Bush brought to a new level," is [largely] responsible for worsening US-Russian relations, she says.
High marks for helping Africa on AIDS and boosting foreign aid
President Bush gets high marks for his decisions to more than double US foreign aid for fighting AIDS in Africa and for introducing performance-based standards for foreign-aid recipients.
The president's AIDS program not only has helped Africans in crisis, but its successes are responsible for America's high standing in several strategically important countries, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton noted Jan. 13 during her Senate confirmation hearing.
Stalwart Bush critics give the president his due, too, for boosting foreign aid and for inventing Millennium Challenge Accounts, which link receipt of US aid to good-governance practices. "These are significant initiatives that have already paid off," says Charles Kupchan at the Council on Foreign Relations.
While praising this use of "soft power" as a foreign-policy tool, some analysts note that AIDS relief in Africa is not a high national priority. "It's just not one of the most critical areas that's going to have an impact on America's security and its ability to promote its national interests," says national-security analyst Susan Eisenhower, a Republican-turned-independent.