Thursday, September 11, 2008

Does Barack Know The Bush Doctrine?

Here is part of the transcript from Charles Gibson and Sarah Palin:


GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?




What is the Bush Doctrine?

Here is how Barack Obama defined the Bush Doctrine on the ABC news website:

Obama: Clinton Would Continue "Bush Doctrine"
July 26, 2007 11:21 AM

ABC News' Rick Klein Reports:

Sen. Barack Obama lobbed another verbal grenade at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday, continuing a feud that first erupted at Monday night's Democratic presidential debate.

In a conference call with reporters, Obama said Clinton would continue the "Bush doctrine" of only speaking to leaders of rogue nations if they first meet conditions laid out by the United States. He went on to suggest that being "trapped by a lot of received wisdom" led members of Congress -- including Clinton -- to authorize the war in Iraq.

"The Bush administration's policy is to say that he will not talk with these countries unless they meet various preconditions -- that's their explicit policy, and that was the question that was posed at the debate," Obama said. "This is the assertion that she made during the debate and subsequently, was that she would not meet with various leaders unless certain preconditions were met. Now, if that's not what she means, then she should say so, but that was the question that was posed at the debate."


Maybe Charles Gibson should explain the Bush Doctrine to Barack Obama.

Frank Rich of the New York Times (The Bush Doctrine, R.I.P.) described the Bush Doctrine as

It was in September that the president told Congress that ''from this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.'' It was in November that he told the United Nations that ''there is no such thing as a good terrorist.''


Here is Media Matters on Charlie Gibson, Barack Obama and the Bush Doctrine:


During NH debate, ABC's Gibson characterized Obama's Pakistan position as "essentially the Bush doctrine," ignoring Bush contradictions

Summary: During the ABC News-Facebook Democratic debate, ABC News' Charlie Gibson said that Sen. Barack Obama's assertion that, as president, he would "press them [the Pakistani government] to do more to take on Al Qaeda in their territory," and that "if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike," is "essentially the Bush doctrine: We can attack if we want to, no matter the sovereignty of the Pakistanis." But by asserting that Obama's policy on Pakistan is "essentially the Bush doctrine," Gibson was claiming that there is in fact a clear Bush doctrine on the question of whether the U.S. would strike Al Qaeda in Pakistan regardless of the sovereignty of Pakistan. Bush and administration officials have in fact made inconsistent statements on this issue.


Looks like a liberal cite has a problem with Charles Gibson's definition of the Bush Doctrine...

Is the Bush Doctrine Dead?
The president's critics are wrong. That includes the neocons.
by NORMAN PODHORETZ
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Podhoretz claimed that the "animating or foundational principle of the entire doctrine" was this George Bush quote.

The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us. Our nation, this generation, . . . will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage.


If asked to define the Bush Doctrine myself, I would be in the Podhoretz camp on this particular point. I thought that the Bush Doctrine was about freedom, about the fact that history shows us that free people don't go to war with free people, and that our foreign policy would have more moral clarity if it expressed the same principles of our domestic policy.

More from Podhoretz:

So misrepresented has the Bush Doctrine been that the only way to begin answering that question is to remind ourselves of what it actually says (and does not say); and the best way to do that is by going back to the speech in which it was originally enunciated: the president's address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001.


Podhoretz had three pillars of the Bush Doctrine:

1) No moral equivalency (call a spade a spade). Bush wanted to make a clear line between good and evil. And referencing the Bush quote above about the advance of human freedom, it was clear that was the good. Dictatorships that harbored terrorists were the evil.

2) From Podhoretz:

The second pillar on which the Bush Doctrine stood was a new conception of terrorism... Under the old understanding, terrorists were lone individuals who could best be dealt with by the criminal-justice system. Mr. Bush, by dramatic contrast, now asserted that they should be regarded as the irregular troops of the nation-states that harbored and supported them. From this it followed that 9/11 constituted a declaration of war on the United States, and that the proper response was to rely not on cops and lawyers and judges but on soldiers and sailors and Marines.


3) Here is what Podhoretz states as the third pillar of the Bush Doctrine:

In thus promising to "pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism," the president touched on the third pillar on which the Bush Doctrine was built: the determination to take pre-emptive action against an anticipated attack. But it was only three months later, in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 29, 2002, that he made this determination fully explicit:

I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.


...

If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. . . . The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.


The reason it was now necessary to act in this way, the president explained, was that the strategy we had adopted toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War (or World War III in my accounting) could not possibly work "in the world we have entered"--a world in which "unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons or missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies."


The third pillar here would agree with Gibson's assesment of "anticipatory self-defense". The two certainly could disagree, because Gibson never cites "the foundational principle of the entire doctrine." according to Podhoretz Charlie Gibson gave us his definition, but that differs from Podhoretz. Is he right? I guess it depends on who you ask.

The fact that George Bush was the first President to advocate on behalf of a Palistiean State is an example of Podhoretz interpretation of the doctrine when it comes to freedom and self determination.


Time Magazine defined the Bush Doctrine:

The End of Cowboy Diplomacy

After Sept. 11, however, the Bush team embarked on a different path, outlining a muscular, idealistic and unilateralist vision of American power and how to use it. He aimed to lay the foundation for a grand strategy to fight Islamic terrorists and rogue states by spreading democracy around the world and pre-empting gathering threats before they materialize. And the U.S. wasn't willing to wait for others to help. The approach fit with Bush's personal style, his self-professed proclivity to dispense with the nuances of geopolitics and go with his gut. "The Bush Doctrine is actually being defined by action, as opposed to by words," Bush told Tom Brokaw aboard Air Force One in 2003.




Bush has never told us that he is introducing a doctrine. He never defined it as such. Other people have taken it upon themselves to define the Bush Doctrine. The people that will define it are historians.

Here is Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis on a brief history of American "Doctrines:"

The Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine reflected a long American tradition—extending well back into the 18th century—of associating liberty, prosperity and security with continental expansion. Its principal author, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, related that history to the crisis caused by the apparent intention of European monarchs—Great Britain’s excepted—to re­establish their colonies in the Western Hemisphere after Napoleon’s defeat. The course Adams set was that “the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.” Its feasibility lay in the fact that the British tacitly agreed with that policy and were willing to use their navy to enforce it. The Monroe Doctrine was unilateral, as presidential doctrines must be. But it was based upon a realistic calculation of power within the international system, as all doctrines should be.


The Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine drew upon an equally long American tradition—reinforced by involvement in two 20th-century world wars—of opposing the domination of Europe by a single hostile power. Its principal author, then-Under Secretary of State Acheson, related that history to the crisis caused by the outcome of World War II, which left the Soviet Union in control of half of Europe. The course he set was that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Its feasibility lay in George F. Kennan’s great insight that the Stalinist system and the international communist movement carried within themselves the seeds of their own destruction, so that the passage of time would favor the West if it could hold the line. The Truman Doctrine, like the Monroe Doctrine, was unilateral; but it, too, was based upon a realistic calculation of power within the international system.


And here is his take on Bush Doctrine:

The Bush Doctrine

So is there a Bush Doctrine, and if so will it meet this test of transferability? To answer this question, I’d look first for a statement delivered in a suitably august setting: Durable doctrines don’t appear as casual comments. Then I’d look for one that’s clearly labeled as a policy, not as a portrayal of adversaries or an explanation of methods for dealing with them: That’s why terms like “Axis of Evil” or “preemption” don’t constitute doctrines. Finally—especially in an historically conscious president—I would look for historical echoes.

The speech that best fits these criteria is the one President Bush delivered from the steps of the Capitol on January 20, 2005. As a student of Lincoln, he would have attached special meaning to the term “second Inaugural Address.” That was the moment to draw lessons from a past extending well beyond his own, to apply them to a current crisis, and to project them into an uncertain future. And indeed the President did announce—in a single memorable sentence—that “it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”


That is a current historian's view of the Bush Doctrine, which differs from many accounts.

He goes on to comment:

Initial responses, as usually happens with presidential doctrines, were mixed. Peggy Noonan, who wrote some of Reagan’s best speeches, described it as “somewhere between dreamy and disturbing.” George Will grumbled that “the attractiveness of the goal [is not] an excuse for ignoring the difficulties and moral ambiguities involved in its pursuit.” But the editors of the New York Times unexpectedly liked the speech, observing, “Once in a long while, a newly sworn-in president . . . says something that people will repeat long after he has moved into history.”
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