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Friday, September 12, 2008

Some Thoughts on Palin and the Bush Doctrine

It appears that the most controversy from yesterday's interview with Charlie Gibson by Sarah Palin appears to be regarding her answer about the Bush Doctrine. First, let's go to the tape as they say.

(Youtube has unfortunately been infected with all sorts edited tapes and others full of extra commentary. This one begins by talking about what motivates the hijackers but at almost exactly a minute in, the begin speaking about the Bush Doctrine)

Now, here is how wikipedia defines the Bush Doctrine.

The Bush Doctrine is a phrase used to describe various related foreign policy principles of United States president George W. Bush, enunciated in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The phrase initially described the policy that the United States had the right to treat countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist
groups as terrorists themselves, which was used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan.[1] Later it came to include additional elements, including the controversial policy of preventive war, which held that the United States should depose foreign regimes that represented a threat to the security of the United States, even if that threat was not immediate (used to justify the invasion of Iraq), a policy of supporting democracy around the world, especially in the Middle East, as a strategy for combating the spread of terrorism, and a willingness to pursue U.S. military interests in a unilateral way.[2][3][4] Some of these policies were codified in a National Security Council text entitled the National Security Strategy of the United
States published on September 20, 2002.[5] This represented a dramatic shift from the United States's Cold War policies of deterrence and containment, under the Truman Doctrine, and a departure from post-Cold War philosophies such as the Powell Doctrine and the Clinton Doctrine.

The first usage of the term to refer to the policies of George W. Bush may have been when conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer used the term in February 2001 to refer to the president's unilateral approach to national missile defense.[6]
The main elements of the Bush Doctrine were delineated in a National Security Council document, National Security Strategy of the United States, published on September 20, 2002,[5] and this document is often cited as the definitive statement of the doctrine.[7][8][9] The National Security Strategy was updated in 2006.[10]

So, first of all, the term Bush Doctrine, according to Wikipedia, was in use prior to 9/11. Second, it refers to all sorts of things, and of course, most of the tenets of the Bush Doctrine were not even created by President Bush, himself, but rather colleagues, opponents, and other pundits.

The Bush Doctrine has many tenets and in my opinion, the most important is not pre emptive war fare, but rather the concept that we will make no distinction between the terrorists themselves and any country that harbors them.

In any case, while some of her opponents have expressed righteous indignation that she simply didn't know the Bush Doctrine, it is just as reasonable to assume that she didn't know how to answer Gibson because the Bush Doctrine is so inclusive.

As such, her answer after Gibson clarified what she stated unequivocally that if intelligence determines that another country is planning an IMMINENT attack that we have the right to defend ourselves. Of course, this is not the Bush Doctrine. Bush believes that any country that presents a threat, imminent or not, can be taken out pre emptively. I tend to agree with Bush, however lost in the shuffle of the confusion over her answer, is the fact that Palin sees pre emptive war as strictly done only upon an imminent threat.

On the issue of Pakistan, Palin said that if need be we could cross the border of Pakistan and go after the likes of UBL. This answer is more troubling to me than her answer on the Bush Doctrine. Palin didn't delve at all about the potential consequences of invading Pakistan. They are numerous and any ground attack must take all of those into account. Pakistan is now a country that is unstable and yet, Palin appears willing to make a cross border strike and violate their sovereignty. I want UBL caught as much as everyone, but violating their sovereignty is an act of war. Pakistan could respond with war and if they don't, the government could fall. That government could be replaced by an Islamist government. Any cross border attack must take all of that into account and it doesn't appear as though that has been processed by her.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Pakistan is interesting. The US and Pakistan have a long history that stretches back to the cold war, where India aligned itself with the USSR (militarily only, there was never any communism - they still use MiG fighters and have only recently used Indian made arms). Because of this, Pakistan aligned itself with the western powers, and we have been supplying them with arms and aerospace technology ever since. The United States has recognized many oppressive regimes that have come to power in Pakistan, such as that of Yahya Khan and Zia Ul-Haq. This previous relationship, along with the fact that Pakistan has fully functional nuclear weapons, are the main reasons, I think, why we'll never invade Pakistan, even if we find out that UBL is there.

I can't quite say if the Pakistani government is taking advantage of our aversion to invasion and supporting Al-Qaeda. I do know that the Pakistani government is known to sponsor different terrorist organizations that are very active in India. However, it makes no difference - the nuclear weapons possessed by Pakistan make a formal invasion impossible. It's MAD all over again.