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The Bush administration hasn't used a distinctive shorthand phrase to signal its foreign policy goals. The Weekly Standard has described it as "morality-based," and Newsweek's Howard Fineman has called it "faith-based" foreign policy. Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Bush's closest friend, told CT, "It's love your neighbor like yourself. The neighbors happen to be everyone on the planet."

Whatever one calls it, it represents a distinctive change. In the past three years, President Bush has traveled a long way from the cautious foreign policies he spoke about as a presidential candidate. During the October 2000 debate, Bush said the United States was attempting too much abroad. "If we are an arrogant nation, they will resent us," he said. "If we're a humble nation but strong, they'll welcome us."

On March 19, as Bush added the words "God bless our troops" to the order launching Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm Saddam Hussein, he was not just dressing up policy with pious language—he was summing up more than a year's intensive thinking about the relation of his Christian faith and American foreign affairs. And for some influential conservative Catholics, Jews, and evangelicals, the President's faith-based foreign policy brings to fruition a decade-long effort to link their vision for international human rights, religious freedom, democracy, free trade, and public health directly with the executive branch of the federal government.

Bush's new approach has roots in the 1980s, when a handful of President Ronald Reagan's supporters began to focus on international religious persecution. The movement did not spread far beyond Washington think tanks until 1995. Then Michael Horowitz, former general counsel in Reagan's Office of Management ...

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May 2003

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