Targeting the World: Assessing the Lawfulness of the "Bush Doctrine": Contrary to Former President George W. Bush's Belief That "I Don't Care What the International Lawyers Say, We Are Going to Kick Some Ass," Preventive War-Waging, as Demonstrated in the Bush Doctrine, Does Not Kick Ass. Preventive Self-Defense Is an Illegal, Counter-Productive Policy Which Sets Deadly Precedents for Other States to Follow

By Kaba, Marcel | The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Targeting the World: Assessing the Lawfulness of the "Bush Doctrine": Contrary to Former President George W. Bush's Belief That "I Don't Care What the International Lawyers Say, We Are Going to Kick Some Ass," Preventive War-Waging, as Demonstrated in the Bush Doctrine, Does Not Kick Ass. Preventive Self-Defense Is an Illegal, Counter-Productive Policy Which Sets Deadly Precedents for Other States to Follow


Kaba, Marcel, The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs


Nowadays when one mentions anticipatory, often referred to as preemptive, or as many in the Bush administration [unknowingly, but correctly] preferred to label it "preventive" self-defense, the first example which comes to mind is the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, the invasion occurred despite the lack of, among other factors, international support. The United States government failed to provide any conclusive and convincing evidence of 1) the alleged link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq; 2) the existence or at least build-up of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Yet those two notions were precisely the "popular" justifications for invading the sovereign state of Iraq in the first place.

The misleading fear-factor/security-paranoia propaganda along with significant catastrophic-scenarios purported by the media proved to be considerably effectual in the initial phases of the operation and rallied massive US popular support for the invasion.

In September 2002, President Bush's National Security Strategy rematerialized the long forgotten and sensibly abandoned doctrine of preemption; sensibly because as historian Andrew Bacevich indicates in his article "The Lessons of Endless War," "history has repeatedly demonstrated the irrationality of preventive war. Iraq shows us why the Bush Doctrine was a bad idea in the first place and why its abrogation has become essential." Furthermore, former Vice President Dick Cheney's reckless "one percent doctrine," which may very well be perceived as the most malicious modus operandi for aggressive war-waging offered in the modern era, suggests that even the slightest chance of an attack on the US ought to be approached militarily as if it were beyond any doubt.

President Bush's most perplexing claim came after the breakdown and refutation of all previously introduced factual and/or legal justifications for the invasion when the administration sought to establish moral grounds for their actions. Or, in their eyes, some sort of legitimacy. But if their actions were ostensibly based in legitimacy, were they also grounded in legality? No.

Many people conceded that the US invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law standards, but simultaneously acknowledged that it was legitimate; it was the right thing to do--the omnipresent conundrum between law and ethics. The Bush Doctrine undermines the inclusive multilateral character of the United Nations and promotes illegal aggressive unilateral action, and in doing so sets highly dangerous precedents for other states to follow. Furthermore, the policy is counter-productive in the sense that it leads to more hatred, suffering and death between and among peoples.

Shaping International Law

Pertaining to the right of anticipatory self-defense, the best and most frequently cited example of customary international law is the Caroline doctrine of 1842. Derived from a legal settlement following an incident between a part of Canada and the British Crown, the doctrine establishes two fundamental criteria for reactive as well as anticipatory self-defense. The first criterion was necessity: an instant and overwhelming threat which leaves the self-defending state with no other choice. The second criterion was proportionality: the quantity of force applied in preemptive self-defense must be commensurate to the danger sought to be pre-empted.

Treaty law, the second component of international law, consists of legally binding agreements between two or more parties referred to as "treaties" or "conventions." Treaties may be contractual or introduced alongside newly developed rules of international law. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 and the United Nations Charter are examples of a law-making treaty.

The United Nations Charter

Self-defense, namely the right to use force in preemption (in response to a threat), prior to the United Nations Charter had mainly been guided by the customary international law doctrine of Caroline. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Targeting the World: Assessing the Lawfulness of the "Bush Doctrine": Contrary to Former President George W. Bush's Belief That "I Don't Care What the International Lawyers Say, We Are Going to Kick Some Ass," Preventive War-Waging, as Demonstrated in the Bush Doctrine, Does Not Kick Ass. Preventive Self-Defense Is an Illegal, Counter-Productive Policy Which Sets Deadly Precedents for Other States to Follow
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.