The phrase “Bush Doctrine” refers to the foreign policy strategies that were adopted by the administration of President George W. Bush. The doctrine marked the American unilateral withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and ABM treaty of non-aggression, an act that aroused agitation in a number of nations around the world. Initially, the phrase implied the American right to self-defense, and this gave the American government a leeway to attack nations and territories that provide aid to or harbor terrorist organizations. In fact, the policy played a major role towards the American military engagement in Afghanistan. As time went by, however, the doctrine became controversial as such; hence, most officials in President Bush’s administration avoided the subject due to the concerns it would raise at home and abroad.
The November 24, 2006 American strategy on National Security has prompted discussions regarding the legality and implications that preemptive warfare has on the world’s security. A preemptive military engagement is a type of warfare that is intended to repel a perceived invasion, especially when it appears inevitable. The engagement enables a threatened jurisdiction to gain a strategic advantage before the threat of the hostiles materializes. While a preventive war is aimed at destroying a potential threat to peace and stability of a jurisdiction, the preemptive war is endeavored at repelling an eminent enemy aggression. The Bush administration revisited the strategy of the preemptive war in its foreign policy following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York. By then, the world had not stigmatized the idea of preemptive engagement, as it was evident that such actions would have helped save lives of thousands of Americans. Many proponents of the idea argued that if a nation proves that the adversary is mobilizing resources and personnel in preparation for future attacks, the legality of preemptive warfare could no longer be in doubt.
With the invasion of Iraq, the controversy surrounding the Bush Doctrine heightened. The Iraq war became a hotly debated topic in the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, among other international organizations. Many critics argued that the American government was deviating from the values it once stood for, especially that of people’s right to self-determination. The Iraqi engagement was widely seen as a preventive war, an act that would open avenues for deposing foreign regimes that presented a significant challenge to the security efforts of Americans and American interests. The idea of the preventive war has never been popular. Critics argue that such an engagement would be undermining a nation’s sovereignty, as the threat would not be eminent. Most nations, therefore, interpreted the Bush Doctrine as a strategy of the American government to pursue its military and resource interests, especially in Middle East. The policies on combating terrorism became polarized making the Arabs and Muslims distrust the Americans.
Preemptive war has been justifiable under the international law since the 19th century. However, the strategies introduced by the administration of George W. Bush departed from America’s historical approach to foreign policy. America had for a long time been a peace-restoring nation. There are numerous instances where America intervened in an endeavor to restore peace between warring parties. The most notable ones include the intervention in the two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the 1991 Gulf War.
In the 1890s, the American government had a policy of not interfering with the economic and political affairs of other nations. The policy of isolationism stood until the German u-boats caused the death of 1,000 Americans during the Second World War. The incident drew Americans into a military campaign that they had widely considered a European affair. After the war, the government resolved to avoid political interference in the world affairs. In fact, Americans opted not to ratify the treaty that resulted in the formation of the League of Nations. The policy of isolationism continues through into the World War II. The need for national security reached its height during the Second World War when the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Many critics argued that American government let the country down by not having staged a preemptive attack. They claimed that, despite being a pillar of the American naval and air power, Pearl Harbor was not immune to attack, and, therefore, the Americans could have acted preemptively so as to avert the great losses.
Although some of the American engagements have lacked unanimous backing, most of them have had the support of the majority of nations. To sample a few, the government did face challenges with regard to the crisis in the Korean peninsula. In fact, the UN vote authorizing the intervention passed because of the Soviet boycott and due to the fact that a Nationalist Chinese from the territory of Taiwan represented the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, Americans were under the UN mandate. During the Gulf War I, Americans led a coalition of over 140 nations in a mission to avert a catastrophe in Kuwait. However, in all these instances, critics argued that Americans went to war with a self-interest. In the case of Korea and Vietnam, it has been argued that the driving force was the fear of communism. In 1991, however, the United States was able to secure the support of the Russian Republic.
The Bush Doctrine remains appealing in some instances because today’s world is facing serious security challenges. Protecting Americans and American interests has become an unmanageable task. It is equally difficult to isolate the country from the rest of the world. On many occasions, the U.S. government has been compelled to intervene on humanitarian ground in an endeavor to avert catastrophes. In fact, a non-intervention by Americans is widely blamed on the persistence of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. For such reasons, the government feels compelled into averting disasters of such nature. Nevertheless, its actions have resulted into enmity from a number of world players. American lives have been threatened on numerous occasions. Deterrence has been an issue of discussion since the independence of America.
As much as opponents criticize the American policies on engagements, it is clear that the policies were isolationist on the onset. The nation was drawn into the world affairs by aggressions from abroad. Although the Bush Doctrine is a deviation from the past, such a deviation is necessary, as circumstances have become complicated. American withdrawal from the world affairs has the potential of leading to catastrophes in several regions in the world. The notable ones are the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East. Therefore, as much as critics argue that the American troubles are their own creation, it is not evident to suggest that other powerful nations would abandon their militarization efforts should America choose to stand by. Additionally, as the world’s super power, America has a responsibility of mediating for and restoring peace. Since such a position would increase the security challenges facing the nation, the Bush Doctrine was necessary as it acts as deterrence.