Barnes falsely claimed "Bush doctrine" did not involve unilateralism

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

On Special Report, Fred Barnes claimed that the so-called "Bush doctrine" of U.S. foreign policy did not include the use of unilateral military action, saying that it had "never been a policy of the president." In fact, the Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy explicitly stated, "[W]e will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively."

On the July 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes objected to the assertion made in a Time magazine article (subscription required) posted online the day before that the so-called "Bush doctrine" of U.S. foreign policy included the use of unilateral military action. Barnes claimed, "[T]hat's never been a policy of the president." In fact, the Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy explicitly stated, "[W]e will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively."

During the show's panel segment, Fox News Washington managing editor and host Brit Hume highlighted the cover story in the July 17 issue of Time, headlined "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy." Hume quoted from the following passage, which describes the reformulation of U.S. foreign policy -- commonly known as the "Bush doctrine" -- laid out by the Bush administration following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:

After Sept. 11 ... the Bush team embarked on a different path, outlining a muscular, idealistic and unilateralist vision of American power and how to use it. He aimed to lay the foundation for a grand strategy to fight Islamic terrorists and rogue states by spreading democracy around the world and pre-empting gathering threats before they materialize. And the U.S. wasn't willing to wait for others to help. The approach fit with Bush's personal style, his self-professed proclivity to dispense with the nuances of geopolitics and go with his gut. "The Bush Doctrine is actually being defined by action, as opposed to by words," Bush told Tom Brokaw aboard Air Force One in 2003.

In response, Barnes complained that the Time article "didn't define what the Bush doctrine is except in one instance they said it consisted of unilateralism." He went on to claim: "[T]hat's never been the policy of the president. ... [H]e'd have loved going into Iraq if the French and Germans were along with him, but they weren't -- that didn't make his policy unilateral."

In fact, the document that is considered the official articulation of the Bush doctrine -- the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States of America (NSS) -- asserts that the United States "will not hesitate" to act unilaterally, if necessary, against threats of terrorism:

We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by ... identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders. While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country.

Following the publication of the NSS, numerous news agencies highlighted the significant policy shifts contained within the document, including the unambiguous claim that the United States will act unilaterally when it deems it necessary to do so. From a September 21, 2002, Washington Post article:

In a muscular new statement of U.S. strategic priorities, President Bush declared yesterday that the United States must maintain unchallenged military superiority to win the fight against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that now pose the greatest threat to U.S. national security.

Deterrence and containment, the previous foundations of U.S. strategy, are no longer valid, Bush said in a 31-page document titled "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America." Instead, the United States must identify and destroy the terrorist threat "before it reaches our borders," if necessary acting alone and using preemptive force.

A September 20, 2002, CNN.com article similarly emphasized the unilateral declaration contained in the NSS:

The document, titled "The National Security Strategy for the United States of America" says the United States would prefer to act within international bodies and with international allies. But it also is blunt, saying, "We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively."

From the July 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

HUME: "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy," it proclaims, with a picture designed to represent President Bush and a man who's all hat, I presume it means, and no cattle. The magazine says among other things, quote, "He aimed," did the president, "to lay the foundation for a grand strategy to fight Islamic terrorists and rogue states by spreading democracy around the world and pre-empting gathering threats before they materialize. And the U.S. was not willing to wait for others to help."

And goes -- the magazine goes on to suggest that that policy -- those policies are now in ruins as the president faces trouble in Iraq, trouble with Iran, trouble with North Korea, and perhaps other places as well. Some thoughts about this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Fox News contributors all.

Well Fred, what about it? Is the -- did we have "cowboy diplomacy," and if we did, is it over?

BARNES: Well, you know, there is -- nobody in the Bush administration should apologize for cowboy diplomacy, there's a great tradition there. Ronald Reagan was called -- he was called a cowboy by -- I mean, just in the U.S., on The Weekly Standard website, we put a list of the things he was called in the 1980s, things like "Trigger Happy Cowboy," "Hollywood Cowboy," "Nuclear Cowboy," "Macho Cowboy," "Lone Cowboy, "Space Cowboy," all these things. And, of course, Ronald Reagan's policies -- in 1986, you know, six years into his presidency, we didn't know they were going to -- where they were going to wind up. And of course, they wound up winning the Cold War, when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed and in, I think, 2001, the Soviet Union -- or in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, so we don't know where President Bush's policies are going to wind up.

I would say one other thing. Time said this is the ending of -- the Bush doctrine has been thrown aside. I couldn't -- they didn't define what the Bush doctrine is except, in one instance, they said it consisted of unilateralism. Well, that's never been a policy of the president. I mean, look, he'd have loved going into Iraq if the French and the Germans were along with him, but they weren't -- that didn't make his policy unilateral.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Fred Barnes
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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