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.

 

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Krauthammer comes down on Charles Gibson's Gaffe

Charles Krauthammer schools us all on the real meaning of the Bush Doctrine, which he should know - as, according to Wikipedia, he was deeply involved in its inception.

There is no single meaning of the Bush Doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.

He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?"

She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."

Wrong.

Krauthammer goes on to describe what the Bush Doctrine is and isn't, and then cuts Sarah some slack and gives her points for honesty (as opposed to the hubris which Charlie accused her of in accepting the nomination):

Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.

 

 

Krauthammer nails it again

Krauthammer so definitively nails this.

4 definitions of 'the Bush doctrine' have been given and used in the media. The Bush administration themselves never announced any explicit doctrine, but propounded themes that have been given that label.

And what's funny is those who went back and looked at how ABC News in the past, back in sept 2001, used 'the Bush doctrine' in the manner Sarah Palin did.

 

What law for self-defense?

The right of anticipatory self-defence is already enshrined in international law.

It would be good to know the wording of this law.

And how it applies to Georgia / S. Ossetia, for instance.

The right of anticipatory self-defence and the Caroline Doctrine

The Caroline Doctrine is described as follows:

The right of self-defense is set out in customary international law in the so-called Caroline doctrine. In 1837 a portion of Canada was in rebellion against the British Crown. The vessel Caroline was owned by a group of Americans who in 1837 were using her to ferry men and supplies to rebels on an island on the Canadian side of the Niagara River.

To cut off assistance to the rebels, British troops crossed into U.S. territory on December 29, 1837, loosed the Caroline from her moorings on the New York side of the river, set fire to the ship, and sent her over the Falls.

The resulting legal issue was whether the British had acted legitimately in self-defense. In an exchange of diplomatic correspondence with Lord Ashburton of Great Britain, Secretary of State Daniel Webster set forth the conditions of necessity and proportionality which came to be accepted as the customary law requirements for the exercise of self defense (the "Caroline doctrine").

Necessity requires imminent "overwhelming" danger and exhaustion, unavailability, or futility of peaceful means to avert attack. The force employed must be proportional to the danger sought to be averted.

The British accepted Webster's criteria and agreed that the British attack had failed to meet them. Under Caroline, an actual armed attack was not required as the precondition for the use of force in self-defense.

Thus, the Caroline criteria permit both reactive and anticipatory self-defense so long as necessity and proportionality are observed.

H/T Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

 

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The testking 640-460 meme

The testking 640-460 meme goes like this: The brave Iranians we see on our TV screens and computer monitors aren't demonstrating about a stolen election. They've gone whole hog and become counter-revolutionaries. They want to dump the current regime, turn their backs on radical Islam and install a Bush-era Middle East secular democracy. Bush redeemed.

Then when Iranian secular movements start turning leftwards in a testking 350-030 way, the same neo-con forces will be crying 'come back Ahmedinijhad, all is forgiven'. Secular democracy always has conditions attached as far as neo-cons are concerned. Whether its Britain, the US or France, if secular democratic forces move an inch away from Western business interests, then its regime change again.testking 70-236