Bush Doctrine and Governor Palin
This is not about voting for a Democrat, a Republican, or for anyone else. It is about America’s national security strategy – a policy issue as fundamental as the colossal financial crisis now facing America and the world. War and peace are at stake.
In a recent ABC television interview, Charles Gibson asked Governor Sarah Palin her opinion concerning the Bush Doctrine. It soon was clear to Mr. Gibson that Governor Palin was unfamiliar with the Bush Doctrine, and he attempted to explain it to her. Mr. Gibson’s explanation was feeble, as was Governor Palin’s response.
Their interview has been broadcast repeatedly on television and the internet, and printed widely in the press. A number of journalists and at least one prominent television anchorman have said that one should not expect Governor Palin to be familiar with the Bush Doctrine. I take exception to that view. America’s security, prosperity, and the wellness of its national soul require we understand the Bush Doctrine and demand change.
What then is the Bush Doctrine? It is the term commonly associated with the outrageous assertions in the National Security Strategy that President Bush floated in his West Point commencement address of June 1, 2002 and decreed in September 2002, just in time to provide a level of legal and political cover for the October 2002 Congressional votes authorizing America’s “preventive first-strike invasion” of Iraq.
The essential question facing America is: Will we continue to claim these perilous prerogatives unto the President and his judgment?
Consider what these proclaimed prerogatives are.
1) America claims unto itself the unilateral right to (first-strike) attack any country or people that our President fears may someday wish harm to the USA, its friends, or its interests. (Note: This is not about responding to an attack or even to an imminent threat. All agree such circumstances require a definite response.)
2) As the sole superpower on earth, America announces its intent to maintain this position permanently, with sufficient power to dissuade any country or combination of countries from challenging America’s preeminent power in any region on earth.
It is not known if President Bush and Secretary of State Rice continue to assert these radical claims from September 2002. What is known is there has been no announcement recanting them.
No country, not even the USA, is wealthy or powerful enough to maintain worldwide dominance permanently. Such arrogance would soon deplete a country’s power and wealth, as well as its military forces and credit worthiness. “Permanently” is a long, long time.
America’s leaders and citizens need to be well-informed of their country’s policies – especially the Bush Doctrine, which seemingly self-authorizes the President to do almost anything he dreams is required to defend America (or, as cynics may think, to secure his reelection or his place in history).
Since the dawn of the Bush Doctrine six years ago, there has been precious little public discussion of what these claims mean for America and the world, so little discussion, in fact, that Governor Palin was unaware, until recently, of the Bush Doctrine’s existence. By contrast, one can be certain that America’s friends and adversaries are familiar with the Bush Doctrine and its terrifying claims. Will America be surprised when another country follows its example and claims the first-strike right unto itself?
Consider too what General Brent Scowcroft – the National Security Advisor to President George H. W. Bush – said during a recent C-SPAN interview, “If we treat a country like an enemy, we will make an enemy of them.”
This is a big deal. The next administration must decide how it chooses to regard its friends and adversaries. Will the new administration maintain the failed Bush Doctrine of threatening first-strike warfare and worldwide dominance? Or, will they formulate a new policy that protects the USA, its friends, and its interests, while avoiding the ravages of intimidation and warfare?
All office holders and candidates for federal office should be expected to publicly express their opinions regarding this issue. There have been six years to consider the Bush Doctrine and its disastrous consequences. Today, there should be no rationale for a candidate not to have an opinion on this vital issue.
It is the press who must ask the questions. That is their job. Who else will do it? Charles Gibson is to be commended for asking the question of Governor Palin.
(This opinion was published in The Stanly News and Press, Albemarle, NC, September 25, 2008.)