Friday, September 12, 2008

If Palin got the Bush Doctrine Wrong, So Did Obama and Gibson

From Gibson's interview:
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: 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 other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

Excellent analysis by Joshua S. Treviño:

The consequence of this exchange has been the predictable and familiar litany of hand-wringing over Palin’s purported ignorance of basic foreign policy principles, and her concurrent fitness (or lack thereof) to lead the country. See Andrew Sullivan for a succinct demonstration of the shrieking; the rest may be found via the usual suspects.

Sullivan writes: “[A]ny serious person who has followed the debates about US foreign policy knows what the Bush doctrine is.” Charlie Gibson apparently agrees. They’re both wrong. The fact is that the “Bush Doctrine” is a term which has had an evolving definition over this decade. Though it’s obvious Palin was momentarily baffled by the query, she was far closer to the truth when she interpreted the phrase as signifying the President’s “world view.” What we know as the “Bush Doctrine” has many meanings. A brief survey reveals the following:

In March 2002, the New York Times’s Frank Rich described the “Bush Doctrine” as the proposition, enunciated by the President, that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

In March 2002, UK Guardian’s Tony Dodge declared that the “Bush Doctrine” was a set of American-imposed principles for the conduct of small states, “concern[ing] the suppression of all terrorist activity on their territory, the transparency of banking and trade arrangements, and the disavowal of weapons of mass destruction.”

In January 2003, Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute defined the “Bush Doctrine” as a principle of American global hegemony, with “anticipatory self-defense” as one of its enforcement mechanisms.

In February 2003, PBS’s Frontline’s “The War Behind Closed Doors” described the “Bush Doctrine” as the whole set of premises undergirding the 2002 National Security Strategy — of which “anticipatory self-defense” is merely one facet. In March 2003

, Slate’s Michael Kinsley put a unique spin on the “Bush Doctrine,” by asserting it signified the President’s claimed right to go to war without permission from international or domestic institutions.

In June 2004, the Washington Post’s Robin Wright wrote that the “Bush Doctrine” was comprised of “four broad principles,” of which “anticipatory self-defense” was only one.

In March 2005, Charles Krauthammer, in Time, described the “Bush Doctrine” as encompassing the policy of democracy-promotion in the Middle East.

In December 2006, Philips H. Gordon of the Brookings Institution defined the “Bush Doctrine” as encompassing a set of four basic assumptions, of which “anticipatory self-defense” was half of one.

In June 2007, Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada referred to the “Bush Doctrine” as the principle of democratization in the Middle East.

In July 2007, Senator Barack Obama described the “Bush Doctrine” as, as reported by ABC News, “only speaking to leaders of rogue nations if they first meet conditions laid out by the United States.”

In January 2008 and in May 2008, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe described the “Bush Doctrine” as the President’s warning to “the sponsors of violent jihad: ‘You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.’”

Two things to note: first, that “any serious person who has followed the debates about US foreign policy” should know that describing the “Bush Doctrine” as the President’s “world view” is actually rather apt; second, that even the Democratic nominee for president botches the definition by the Gibson standard. Logically, those denouncing Palin for unfitness to be vice president now, on these grounds, ought to be doubly concerned that Barack Obama is unfit to be president. This won’t happen, of course, because this entire affair is a passing tactical “gotcha” rather than a serious critique.

There’s a lot more where this came from — see Richard Starr’s epic catalogue of ABC’s own variations on the term’s definition — but this is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Charlie Gibson and Palin’s critics got it wrong. Sarah Palin got it right
Further reads by Scott at Flopping Aces:
WHY Did ABC Manipulate Palin Interview Footage?
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews And Imminent Threat Claims About Iraq

Previous post regarding foreign policy experience (Read links to Michael Medved and Thomas Sowell)

*Update* Curt adds:

the guy who coined the term says Charlie and the libs have it wrong:

The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

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.


...I was the first to use the term. In the cover essay of the June 4, 2001, issue of the Weekly Standard entitled, "The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the New American Unilateralism," I suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine.

Then came 9/11, and that notion was immediately superseded by the advent of the war on terror. In his address to the joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11, President Bush declared: "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." This "with us or against us" policy regarding terror -- first deployed against Pakistan when Secretary of State Colin Powell gave President Musharraf that seven-point ultimatum to end support for the Taliban and support our attack on Afghanistan -- became the essence of the Bush doctrine.

Until Iraq. A year later, when the Iraq war was looming, Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of preemptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is the Bush doctrine.

It's not. It's the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly and distinctively defines the Bush years: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."


If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about the grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda of the Bush administration.

Not the Gibson doctrine of preemption.

Not the "with us or against us" no-neutrality-is-permitted policy of the immediate post-9/11 days.

Not the unilateralism that characterized the pre-9/11 first year of the Bush administration.

Presidential doctrines are inherently malleable and difficult to define. The only fixed "doctrines" in American history are the Monroe and the Truman doctrines which come out of single presidential statements during administrations where there were few other contradictory or conflicting foreign policy crosscurrents.

Such is not the case with the Bush doctrine.

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Blogger MDConservative said...

Everyone and their brother has an opinion on just WHAT it is. Bill Sammon spoke about it this morning.

Between that and this NATO issue. Palin 2, opponents 0.

Friday, September 12, 2008 1:37:00 PM  
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Friday, September 12, 2008 2:04:00 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

I am much more concerned about the McCain Doctrine and perhaps the Palin Doctrine. Will they build on and improve the Bush Doctrine or will they surrender to the chattering classes of the MSM.

Friday, September 12, 2008 4:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Amerianeocon said...

I posted the Starr takedown, but that's a heckuva list you've got!

Friday, September 12, 2008 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger Rivka said...

We are on the same track it seems. I posted on this today and included the Krauthammer piece. It really exposed the condescending, ignorant, elitist attitude of the leftist media.

Did you notice that Palin was indeed annoyed by him? I think she exposed it via calling him "Charlie".. Her pitbull came out, but she did a great job of not losing it which anyone would have done.

Saturday, September 13, 2008 6:49:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I do tons of reading, and follow all races very closely. To be honest, I had no idea what the pinhead meant by the "Bush Doctrine". Did Chuckie ask this question to Obama?

Maybe I am missing something here. I am curious how many writers here, honestly, knew what the Bush Doctrine is.
Charlie Gibson is an example of why women will come out in droves to vote for the McCain Palen ticket.

Saturday, September 13, 2008 6:54:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I am curious how many writers here, honestly, knew what the Bush Doctrine is.

I'm big on the foreign policy aspect of the Bush presidency and the war on terror, so I already had my own idea; but I didn't realize that Krauthammer coined it, nor that there wasn't just a single official definition for it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008 8:24:00 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

I agree with Shoprat, I don't care as much about her take on the Bush doctrine as much as her eplanationas to what she and McCain intend for the country. This was really nothing more than a subtle continuation of the tired old McCain is Bush the third term.

Also, notice that no one is asking about the Clinton doctrine (doesn't exist) or the Carter doctrine (failure)?

Saturday, September 13, 2008 7:19:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Scott's update, with the transcript of the unedited segment of the interview regarding "the Bush Doctrine".

Sunday, September 14, 2008 11:46:00 AM  

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