The Bush Doctrine Will Live
By: Guest Authors
By: Brooks A. Mick, M.D.
In the first interview Sarah Palin gave after McCain selected her as VP candidate, Charlie Gibson made much of her dissembling regarding the Bush Doctrine.
Well, interestingly, Charlie Gibson didn’t know of what the Bush Doctrine consisted either. He had a very narrow view of what the Bush Doctrine comprised, referring only to the section wherein Bush had proposed that we should not wait until an attack was imminent to go after our enemies. This, however, is only a part, though perhaps the most controversial part, of the four-pronged Bush Doctrine. Those four parts consist of the following, in the order in which they were first promulgated:
1) The right to build defensive systems despite the opposition of those who might attack us (the abrogation of the ABM Treaty).
2) The principle that those who finance, harbor, and train terrorists and other enemies, i.e., rogue nations, will be considered the enemy too.
3) The principle that, given the reality of WMD, stealth terrorism, and other real-world situations, we could no longer afford to wait until an attack was imminent to respond to threats.
4) The “freedom agenda” articulated in Bush’s second inaugural address that “the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” That is, drying up the breeding grounds of the terrorists by spreading democracy.
All of these elements comprise the current Bush Doctrine. I’m sure Charlie Gibson didn’t know that, which might explain Sarah Palin’s “In what respect, Charlie?”
As controversial as these four elements are now, they seemed somewhat commonsense in the aftermath of 9/11–precisely because they are common sense. The principles of national defense that were applicable and sufficient in 1787 or in 1917 or in 1941 are obsolete now. It should be clear that the only people threatened by a defensive system are those who would attack. It should be clear that those who support terrorists are the enemy. It should be clear that WMD have made foolish the idea that we have to wait until attack is imminent. By the time we recognize an attack is imminent, thousands may be dead.
And with the successful conclusion of the war in Iraq, we will have a democratic foothold in the heart of the Middle East, setting an example for citizens of other countries who may then be given hope for their own freedom and be encouraged to oppose their own oppressive regimes. Looking back from 25 years or so in the future, the fourth prong of the Bush Doctrine may again be seen as simply common sense.
I’m old enough to recall that “LSMFT–Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco,” was transposed into “Lord, Save Me From Truman.” Harry T’s approval rating was in the toilet as he left office, those who remember history recall. Yet today he’s ranked as one of the greater presidents. The same will, I predict, befall George W. Bush. And the opposite fate will be the reward of those who repeal or ignore the Bush Doctrine’s quadruple elements. Indeed, this is so self-evident that I predict that Obama will only give some vague lip service to the abrogation of the Bush Doctrine and he will instead continue to adhere to its dictums. We shall watch closely.