Last modified on April 9, 2019, at 05:49

Bush Doctrine

The Bush Doctrine is a term coined in 2001, usually to ascribe the concept of preventive war to George W. Bush.

Origins of the term

Time Magazine published a story on Feb 2001, 2001, entitled "The Bush doctrine" by Charles Krauthammer, in which he described it as " Its motto is, We build to suit--ourselves. "[1]

The term quickly went on to become widely understood and frequently used, both on the political Left[2] and on the Right.[3]

In 2002, Steven R. Weisman in a New York Times op./ed. piece defined the Bush Doctrine as "those who harbor terrorists are accountable for terrorism".[4]

Disagreement seems to exist however about the exact origins of the term. In January 2008, a Boston Globe article referred to the "Bush Doctrine" being born on Sept 20th, 2001, when President Bush uttered the words "You are either with us, or against us".[5]

VP nominee Sara Palin asked about the Bush Doctrine in Charlie Gibson interview

In a Sept. 11th 2008 ABC television interview with Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Charlie Gibson asked, "Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?" Governor Palin responded, "In what respect, Charlie?" Instead of answering her directly, he asked another question, "Well, what do you interpret it to be?" Palin queried further, "His world view?" Gibson continued, "No the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war." Palin explained that she agreed with Bush's attempts to combat Islamic extremists and terrorism, and admitted that some mistakes had been made. Gibson then elaborated what he meant by the Bush Doctrine, saying "The Bush Doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense. We have the right to a preemptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us."[6]

What Gibson did not point out, is that he himself once gave a definition of the 'Bush doctrine' (a term without a clear definition) that was similar to Palin's answer. Indeed, it has been pointed out since that there are actually four different versions of what the Bush doctrine is and the term and meaning changes over time and place.[7]


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