Defending the Bush Doctrine
By: Craig Chamberlain
What has become to be known as the Bush Doctrine- the idea of toppling dictatorships and replacing them with democracies to prevent the spread of terrorism- is almost certainly going to come to an end. The incoming Obama administration is not likely to keep the Bush Doctrine as American policy. The Obamaites and Clintonistas who will make up the next government have little use(or stomach) for military force. Despite Clintons firing cruise missiles in Afghanistan, at an aspirin factory in Sudan, bombing Baghdad without results, or bombing Serbia without congressional or UN approval, or Obama’s rhetoric about invading Pakistan to get Bin Laden the new government simply doesn’t have the willpower to finish the job.
Democrats, fearing falling poll numbers, prefer what they call “soft power” in real terms that means negotiations that never accomplish anything, and UN resolutions that will never be enforced. Obama, and those who will mostly make up his cabinet, simply do not think of terrorism as a real threat. The far left views it as a conspiracy cooked up in Washington to give the administration the ability to turn America into a fascist nation.
Mainstream liberals might not be wrapping their heads in tin foil, but they think America’s response to 9-11 was an overreaction, and terrorism is simply best treated as a criminal justice matter. This is how the Clinton administration went after terrorists, and they have some successes in convicting terrorists such as the bind sheikh, or the bombers of the Kenyan and Tanzinian embassies.
But these victories come with a price. By giving terrorists the same rights as any other criminal we lost serious intelligence advantages. During the trial of the embassy bombers, for instance, it was revealed that we tracked Bin Laden by his sattelite phone. The results? Obama stopped using his phone and we lost our ability to track him.
So the lefts position of military inaction, and warrants instead of bombs is likely to be the new policy(again). We know from eight years of Clinton terror strategy that terrorist groups saw these tactics as a sign of weakness, and only served to embolden them. The Clinton years soaw many terrorist attacks against the U.S. , the embassy bombings in 1998, the Khobar towers, the first bombing of the world trade center, and the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole. With each attack they got bolder and it culminated in the attacks of 9-11, and since then nothing. The Bush Doctrine of going after terrorists has put them on the defensive leaving them only to attack soft targets in Europe and in the Middle East.
The lefts critique of the Bush Doctrine is that it’s a distraction and not worth the blood and treasure. The last eight years of hunting down terrorists say otherwise. Of course the Bush Docrtine had its critics on the right as well. The realists of the right used the watchword of stability for their criticisms. It wasn’t the use of military force that they objected to but the nation building that came along with the Bush Doctrine.
There were two criticisms: the first was that we couldn’t wait for democracy to take root. It was just better to find a dictator who was willing to play ball with us and just turn everything over to a stongman. They wanted a return to the Reagan years where we supported any dictator who mouthed anti- communist platitudes.
The other critique was that some peoples simply weren’t ready, or capable, of democratic rule. Of course, the criticisms of the right are just as weak as those of the left. Democracies are always more stable than dictatorships. India is more stable than Pakistan, Colombia more stable than Venezuela, South Korea, more stable than North Korea. The criticism that people in the Muslim world are incapable of democratic rule is equally weak. Many claimed it was impossible for Koreans, Filipinos, the people of Taiwan, and the people of eastern Europe couldn’t have a democratic government yet all of them are democratic and stable.
The Bush Doctrine is too important in our struggle against jihadists to be discarded. No one on the left or the right has given a better idea. George W. Bush is certainly not a perfect President, but he deserves credit for carrying on the fight, and doing so in a way that not only keeps the U.S. safe but pulls out terrorism by the roots by denying them safe havens. The Obama camp would be wise to continue the course.
The alternatives don’t work.