Monday, August 28

Forget Podhoretz's four pillars; the Bush Doctrine needs flying buttresses

The Bush Doctrine is a towering edifice of ideas; it's a veritable manifesto of US international relations for the post 9/11 era. As such the doctrine does not, and cannot, serve as a US National Security Strategy and yet that is the doctrine's formal name and stated purpose.

So it's no wonder that many have pronounced the doctrine dead and charged that President Bush has abandoned it. However, one can't abandon something so weighted with diverse assertions that it can't get off the ground. That means Norman Podhoretz is technically correct in both defending Bush's actions (for a commander-in-chief can't actually deviate from a body of ideas that is not specific to national defense) and claiming the doctrine has not died.

Policy analysts noted of the first incarnation of the doctrine (published in September 2002) that in key aspects it was based on Paul Wolfowitz's 1992 Defense Planning Guidance draft co-authored with Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The 2006 incarnation of the US National Security Strategy -- hilariously claiming to be supported by just two pillars -- piles on more points about human dignity, what it takes to make governments work, and a recipe for Salad Nicoise.

So what we need to do here, before trying to decide whether we should simply frame the Bush Doctrine for posterity and rely on Wolfowitz's manifesto for our national security, is plow through both incarnations of the security strategy and study the Wolfowitz document.

That will be the summer project for Pundita readers. Yes I know it won't be as fun as last summer's project (China's Mystery Pig Disease Epidemic) but I trust it will be greatly less confounding.

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