Defining the Bush Doctrine [Greg Pollowitz]
The left is going bananas over Governor Palin's answer to Gibson's "Bush Doctrine" question. Andy McCarthy has a good post on it over in the Corner, but I thought I'd add a little history of the "Bush Doctrine" using the search function at NYTimes.com. The term "Bush Doctrine" looks to have been used for the first time, post 9/11, in mid-November:
A senior administration official said Mr. Bush's speech would be a fleshing out of what the White House calls the Bush Doctrine — the assertion that nations that harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
In January 2002, the editors of the Times wrote:
Mr. Bush appears to be developing an assertive new military doctrine that includes the threat of armed intervention against nations that are developing weapons that may put the United States in peril. The evolving Bush Doctrine implies a preemptive use of conventional force to take out missile launchers, industrial enterprises and facilities that appear to be involved in the fabrication of unconventional weapons. This is a radical departure from what went before. Traditionally, the United States has employed its military forces in retaliation for an attack rather than striking first itself. That should not preclude other options when there is a clear and present danger of attack, but firing first is not a step to be taken lightly.
By March, the "Bush Doctrine" had expanded yet again to include regime change:
In the tug of war between the go-get-'em, nuke-brandishing civilians of the Pentagon and the coalition-minded pragmatists of the State Department, conservatives are now convinced Mr. Bush's sympathies are gung-ho. The Weekly Standard, which has overcome personal strains with Mr. Bush to become something like the president's conservative superego, has taken to calling this ''The Bush Doctrine.''
''On tactics, he may be listening to Colin Powell,'' said Norman Podhoretz, the influential conservative editor and author. ''But he's very clear as to his strategic objectives — not just to clean up Al Qaeda cells but to effect regime changes in six or seven countries and to create conditions which would lead to internal reform and modernization in the Islamic world.''
In September, the Times had an editorial titled, "Bush Doctrine," based on the National Security Strategy paper submitted to Congress. An excerpt:
The tension between idealism and realism in foreign policy runs through America history, and the fault lines are evident in Mr. Bush's policy statement. The paper — a policy summation that every president is required to submit to Congress — seems in some sections to be animated by the most enlightened and constructive impulses of the land of Jefferson, Lincoln and the Marshall Plan. It dedicates the nation to extending the benefits of freedom, democracy, prosperity and the rule of law to struggling countries around the globe. Mr. Bush speaks eloquently in an introductory letter about working with other nations to combat disease and alleviate poverty, and he reaffirms his determination to increase American foreign aid.
At other points, the paper sounds more like a pronouncement that the Roman Empire or Napoleon might have produced. Given Mr. Bush's lone-wolf record on matters like global warming, and the nature of the issues he now faces, including a looming confrontation with Iraq, it is clear these combative attitudes will be driving Washington policy in the months ahead. The boys in Lubbock may want to pause before signing on for the overly aggressive stance Mr. Bush has outlined.
This, I believe, is the September 2002 that Charlie Gibson refers to in his interview. Gibson only referred to the preemption aspect of it, but the human rights and regime changes aspects are as important. Gibson never mentioned this in his little snarky lecture to Gov. Palin.
By April, 2003, we have President Bush admitting he's not quite sure what the "Bush Doctrine" actually is:
Mr. Bush's overt use of diplomatic pressure against Syria and Iran, two countries that Mr. Bush has identified as sponsors of terrorism, is in stark contrast to the use of preemptive force against Iraq.
Yet at one point in his interview, Mr. Bush acknowledged that he had yet to fully form the ''Bush doctrine,'' or to think through how the American victory in Iraq would affect his vow to deal with weapons of mass destruction on a global basis.
In December, we have yet another version of the "Bush Doctrine" as described in the book America Unbound:
Buttressed by extensive research, the authors demonstrate convincingly that Mr. Bush is not the puppet of the vice president or the Defense Department hawks. He has fundamental beliefs that have reversed America's six-decade commitment to internationalism. His foreign policy for the 21st century marks a decided preference for unilateralism.
As the authors describe it, his policy rests on two beliefs: ''The first was that in a dangerous world the best — if not the only — way to ensure America's security was to shed the constraints imposed by friends, allies, and international institutions.'' The second belief was that ''an America unbound should use its strength to change the status quo in the world.''
This does not mean that America need always act alone. When unilateral actions seem impossible or unwise, Mr. Bush will seek allies, but not to make decisions that would require their approval. His preferred approach is to seek ad hoc ''coalitions of the willing,'' what Richard Haas, a former adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has called ''à la carte multilateralism.''
After John Kerry's defeat in 2005, the "Bush Doctrine" became defined by the left with the buzzwords "preemptive" and "unilateral." Paul Krugman for example:
On the foreign policy front, the "Bush doctrine" of pre-emption and unilateralism sounded very impressive at first. But Mr. Bush's tough-guy attitude wasn't matched by his willingness to commit resources. His administration sought global dominance on the cheap, with an undermanned, underplanned invasion of Iraq that has, indeed, transformed the balance of power in the Middle East - in favor of Iran.
In December 2006, Gary Hart wrote this in defense of Barack Obama:
His inherent internationalism causes him to ponder why, five years after 9/11 and 15 years after the end of the cold war, the United States “still lacks a coherent national security policy,” rightly finding the Bush doctrine of pre-emption and defeat of evil in the world wanting.
In January 2007, there's this description:
In a sense, it was an extraordinary retreat by Bush - and not just because Fatah and Hamas killing each other daily makes a plan for new talks surreal. More, it winds the United States deeper into the whorls of process, and goes against the Bush doctrine that democratization of the Middle East starts with the defeat of terrorism.
None of the leading Republican candidates has been willing to articulate anything like a new direction for how to confront terrorism or what to do in Iraq, despite the fact that the Bush doctrine of forcibly spreading democracy has been widely deemed a failure, even by a sizable chunk of Republicans.
From the Times review of Norman Podhoretz's World War IV:
Mr. Podhoretz, however, remains an ardent supporter of the Bush doctrine of unilateral action, pre-emptive war and the exportation of democracy to the Middle East.
So, it's easy to see why there might be a little confusion on what exactly Charlie Gibson was getting at when he asked about the "Bush Doctrine." Except for the Times, of course. It's crystal clear for them. Here's how they wrote up the Palin interview:
In the interview Thursday, Palin:
—Appeared unsure of the Bush doctrine — essentially that the United States must help spread democracy to stop terrorism and that the nation will act pre-emptively to stop potential foes.
Asked whether she agreed with that, Palin said: ''In what respect, Charlie?'' Gibson pressed her for an interpretation of it. She said: ''His world view.'' That prompted Gibson to say ''no, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war'' and describe it to her.
Here's what Gibson actually said, however:
The Bush Doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self defense. That we have the right to a premptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us.
Not only was Charlie Gibson wrong about what was enunciated in September 2002, Gov. Palin was 100% correct in asking what the heck he was babbling about as well as 100% correct in what she said.
09/11 10:28 PMShare