Bush Doctrine

There is no "the" Bush Doctrine

At lunch, I ran an experiment. Every single person at my table had worked on a Presidential campaign. Every single one was saturated in politics. Active -- in their time -- in youth affiliates of their party. These people came from multiple parties

Every single person had a different definition of the Bush Doctrine. One argued that the "Bush Doctrine" emerged from "a series of speeches".

There is no "Bush Doctrine." At best it is a squishy idea. That may be the grounds for a critique in its own right. But not of Sarah Palin.

Clive Crook makes the same point:

I don't go along with the view that her answers on the "Bush doctrine" were a serious misstep, however. True, she did not know what that term meant. The fact is, it means different things to different people. If Gibson had put that question to me, my answer would have been: "It depends what you mean by the Bush doctrine." In effect, that was what she said. And it deserves to be noted (as Jim points out, but with a kindly lack of emphasis, calling it a minor error) that Gibson himself apparently does not know what it means.

GIBSON [impatiently]: The Bush doctrine as I understand it is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree...?

No, Charles. That is not what the Bush doctrine means. The right of anticipatory self-defence is already enshrined in international law. Countries do not have to wait until they are attacked to legitimately defend themselves. The Bush doctrine advances the notion of preventive war: the right to attack not in order to defend yourself against an imminent assault, but to deal with less certain, more distant but still possibly mortal threats.


A 'Bush Doctrine' Poll

Charlie Gibson played a little gotcha last night. It could have been worse but Governor Palin did very well despite the mild condescension.

The 'Bush Doctrine' question is the one getting the most coverage today but how many of us would have done any better? I've put up a very unscientific poll just to get a sense of whether or not viewers knew exactly what Gibson meant.

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