Global Politics

Assessing the Bush doctrine

(Could you briefly define the Bush doctrine?) Basically, it says that the U.S. reserves the right to take military action against a state or nation that is not an imminent threat but could be a future threat, that given the events of 9/11, the U.S. can't wait to take action. (How different is that doctrine from that of past presidents regarding unilateral preemptive action?) It's dramatically different because previous presidents adopted a doctrine of preemption. This was a whole new standard of international behavior. (Do you believe that the U.S. has been more secure as a result of the Bush doctrine?) Absolutely not, because it's gotten the U.S. involved without the support of the international community and also made it more difficult for us to criticize actions in Russia, for example. It lays the foundation for instability, say, if India decided to take action. (Do you think Bush has mellowed on this doctrine more?) Yes, the second Bush administration was much more mainstream in its foreign policy. (What do you make of Bush's speech today at West Point? Is he saying one thing and doing something else?) Basically he is. The rhetoric apparently hasn't changed, but the actions are different. (Obama has indicated he intends to be more multilateral, but do you see any evidence that he would hold onto any of Bush's precepts?) I think the only place he would do it is against a non-state actor, like Al Qaeda.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)