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Bush Doctrine enters American vocabulary
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)


San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper), September 26, 2008
Posted: October 3rd, 2008
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/26/...

Thanks to the Sept. 11 interview of Sarah Palin by Charles Gibson of ABC News, the Bush Doctrine has become part of the American vocabulary. Although it has been a fateful doctrine - it was used to justify the attack on Iraq - many Americans reported that they were as clueless about it as Gov. Palin. So what is the Bush Doctrine? According to international law as generally understood since the creation of the United Nations, a pre-emptive attack is legal only if a country has certain knowledge that an attack on it is imminent - too imminent for the matter to be taken to the U.N. Security Council. Pre-emptive war is different from preventive war, in which a country, fearing that another country may become strong enough to threaten it at some time in the future, attacks it to prevent this possibility. Preventive wars are illegal under international law. This distinction, however, creates a terminological problem: Although preventive war is worse than pre-emptive war, to most ears preemption sounds worse. Many people, therefore, speak of pre-emptive war when they mean preventive war. To avoid confusion, we can use the term pre-emptive-preventive war. Neoconservatives, the most powerful of whom is Vice President Dick Cheney, had long disliked the idea that America's use of military power could be constrained by the prohibition against preemptive-preventive war. In 1992, his last year as secretary of defense, Cheney produced a draft of the Defense Planning Guidance that said the United States should use force to "pre-empt" and "preclude threats." After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the neocons were able to turn their wish into U.S. policy.

Note: This article is by WantToKnow team member David Ray Griffin. He analyzes the significance of the 9/11 attacks for the acceptance of the Bush Doctrine in more detail in his recent book The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, pointing out that the author of the document which first made the doctrine official policy was Philip Zelikow, who then later became executive director of the 9/11 Commission.


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