Sunday Sept. 14, 2008 10:48 EDT
Before it became clear that Sarah Palin had never heard of it, nobody -- including the presidential candidates themselves -- ever had difficulty answering questions about what they believed about the Bush Doctrine, nor ever suggested that this Doctrine was some amorphous, impossible-to-understand, abstract irrelevancy. Quite the contrary, despite some differences over exactly what it means, it was widely understood to constitute a radical departure -- at least in theory -- from our governing foreign policy doctrine, and it is that Doctrine which has unquestionably fueled much of the foreign policy disasters of the last eight years.
In 2003, the American Enterprise Institute's Thomas Donnelly wrote an article
entitled "The Underpinnngs of the Bush Doctrine," and argued that "the Bush Doctrine, which is likely to shape U.S. policy for decades to come, reflects the realities of American power as well as the aspirations of American political principles"; that it "represents a reversal of course from Clinton-era policies in regard to the uses of U.S. power and, especially, military force"; and "the Bush Doctrine represents a return to the first principles of American security strategy." Donnelly had no trouble understanding and articulating exactly what the Bush Doctrine meant: namely, a declaration that the U.S. has the right to -- and will -- start wars against countries even if they have not attacked us and are not imminently going to do so:
Taken together, American principles, interests, and systemic responsibilities argue strongly in favor of an active and expansive stance of strategic primacy and a continued willingness to employ military force. Within that context, and given the ways in which nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction can distort normal calculations of international power relationships, there is a compelling need to hold open the option of -- and indeed, to build forces more capable of -- preemptive strike operations. The United States must take a wider view of the traditional doctrine of "imminent danger," considering how such dangers might threaten not only its direct interests, but its allies, the liberal international order, and the opportunities for greater freedom in the world.
So, Johnny/Sarah, you want to be an extension of Bush/Cheney, you have to answer to the American people on this philosophical disaster.