Short History of the Bush Doctrine
April 9, 2002
By Eric Munoz
The Bush Doctrine was developed in response to the attacks
of September 11th and was based on one simple premise: good
vs. evil embodied as ‘us vs. them’. Anyone who supported terrorism
by harboring, financing, feeding or being complicit was a
terrorist. The time had come where every nation had to choose
sides, either you are with us in rooting out terror or you
are against us.
The philosophy worked well in Afghanistan and as it related
to Al Qaeda. Even nations like Iran and Syria condemned the
acts of September 11th and voiced their support for the United
States. The Taliban was routed along side of the terrorist
network it had harbored.
However, the Bush Doctrine leaves little leeway when the
situation is not so black-and-white. No doubt the Israelis
and the Palestinians have some claim to being right, but there
is also no doubt that both sides have engaged in doing wrong.
The murder of innocents at pizzerias, disco clubs or in retaliation
is wrong, the expansion into and occupation of Palestinian
controlled areas is wrong, using suicide/homicide bombers
or trained soldiers to kill civilians is wrong. The Israelis
continue to occupy and humiliate while the Palestinians continue
to bomb. Sharon sends his troops while Arafat sends his people
and both sides claim to be terrorized by the other, thus justified
in their actions per the Bush doctrine. Thus, the escalating
violence in the Middle East is an exhibition of the Bush Doctrine
in full effect.
Fortunately, Bush has finally recognized that the world exists
in shades of gray and that the key to a more fundamental understanding
of the issues involved lies in understanding the good and
the evil in those on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately,
Bush is yet to recognize that the good on both sides deserve
our attention and assistance while the evil on both sides
deserve our condemnation. In his speech, Mr. Bush seemed to
justify the actions of Sharon and Arafat, instead of condemning
For example, Mr. Bush has clearly and repeatedly said, ‘either
you are with us or you are with the terrorists’ and ‘if you
feed, house, harbor or otherwise support the terrorist you
are a terrorist.’ In today’s speech, Mr. Bush said Arafat
had failed to confront terrorists, and that the PA and other
Arab nations needed “to stop inciting violence by glorifying
terror in state-owned media or telling suicide bombers they
are martyrs.” Yet, he stopped short of calling Arafat a terrorist.
Even further, he called for Israel to recognize and abide
by UN Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for Israel to withdraw
from the occupied territories.
Mr. Bush was even more ambiguous on Israel’s role on the
escalating violence. He recognized Israel’s right to defend
itself but at the same time asked that Israel pull back from
its recent ‘incursions’ and withdraw from cities it has recently
occupied. He described Israeli action as efforts to “root
out terrorist nests.” While he did not call Israel on its
excessive use of force, or the excessive number of civilian
casualties, aka collateral damage, he did say, “to lay the
foundations of future peace, I ask Israel to halt incursions
into Palestinian-controlled areas,” he said. Implicitly, the
violence will continue if Israel does not pull back, i.e.
it will be Israel’s fault that the bombings continue.
While he chided Arafat for his ineffective leadership and
called for Israel to ease up on its use of force, he stopped
short of criticizing either. While he asked that the Arab
world step forward toward peace while the Israelis stepped
back from their occupation, he failed to condemn the tooth
for a tooth mentality that permeates the region.
If nothing else, at least we can be thankful that not even
George Bush seems to believe in the Bush Doctrine anymore.
The Bush Doctrine made for excellent sound bites but not for
good foreign policy. The Bush Doctrine works great in spaghetti
westerns and kids’ comic books, where the good guys and the
bad guys are easy to tell apart. It does not work so well
in the real world where the good guys are sometimes bad and
the bad guys are sometimes just fighting back.