Bush Doctrine, Explanation of the Administration and War on Terror


Leaders have become the main instruments for defining and executing world events. This is largely from a set of principles (doctrines) they initiate and pursue during their reign (Buckley and Singh, 2006). Doctrines, in the American sense, reflect more on the country’s foreign policy strategy, which every president would want to pursue during his/her reign. George W. Bush (junior) is regarded as one of the US presidents to have mid-wife one of the most dramatic doctrines that greatly transformed America’s foreign relations policy. This was so after the events of 9/11, which President Bush translated as threat to the security of America and stability of the world.

Known as ‘Bush Doctrine’, the American president declared an immediate onslaught on rogue states that sympathize with terrorist and at same time, executed American military power to ‘cleanse’ off the world from terror activities and elements (Buckley and Singh, 2006). As a result, Bush Doctrine was integrated into the National Security Strategy (NSS) in 2002, where the Doctrine rested on four critical pillars: necessity to maintain American military primacy, pursue of pre-emptive war as supplementary to tradition deterrence, war of terrorism, and democratization of rogue states (Buckley and Singh, 2006). Bush Doctrine became the riding theme with which Bush and members of the administration explained to both Americans and International audience why it was necessary to implement in light of threat of terrorism.

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Bush Doctrine

During the Bush administration, America’s presence in Iraq and Afghanistan became inevitable, not for business purposes, but for sole and critical purpose of pursuing an ‘enemy’ posing threat to Americans and the world at large. After the events of 9/11, President Bush was convinced that America’s national security was threatened, while the world could not be guaranteed its serenity and tranquility of peace (Phillips, 2005). Terrorists had shaken the nerve of American people and their security, and as a result, things would henceforth not be the same. In the perspective of President Bush, America had to respond to these threats speedily and comprehensively.

In attaining national security by pursuing terrorists, President Bush also clarified the need to tackle ‘rogue’ states, especially in the Middle East to achieve genuine security (Phillips, 2005). The ‘rogue’ states were to be transformed into functional democracies, and through this, war on terror would be meaningful and far-reaching. In the views of President Bush, pursuing security needs should be accompanied by promotion of democracies in states that seem to lack transparency in governance, and attainment of this would lead to positive security gains. Bush’s assertion represented new wave of neoconservatives who associates heightened terror activities to absence of freedom and democracy in some states of Middle East and as a result, President Bush became adept of the urgent need to promote democracy in the region while relentlessly fighting terrorism (Phillips, 2005).

Bush Doctrine, as compared to his predecessor’s was perceived to be of its own class; it was regarded as ‘revolution’ Doctrine when compared to earlier Doctrines, although some critics maintain that Bush’s Doctrine was not different but just continuation of America’s foreign ‘hostility’ policy implemented differently but with similar objectives. Bush Doctrine was not that smooth affair especially among the world audience who largely expressed opposition to the Doctrine (Phillips, 2005). Moreover, the opposition was not only confined to the outer world, but also draws some levels of irk and opposition from Americans, especially with regard to tension the Doctrine exhibited in terms of creating tension between its transformational objectives and the subsequent employment of appropriate means to realize them (Buckley and Singh, 2006). The overall assessment of Bush Doctrine has been concluded to be provocative, muscular, and pro-active in the American ‘exceptional’ era of international relations and in the fight against terrorism (Buckley and Singh, 2006). Many people and analysts remain in dilemma as to whether Bush would have initiated and implemented this doctrine if the events of 9/11 had not occurred. As a result, the 9/11 events are regarded as historic spring-source for the Bush Doctrine that saw much transformation in America’s foreign policy and the issue of national security. America intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq re-defined its military bases in Central Asia, while withdraw from Saudi Arabia, and Middle East became the centrality of America’s foreign policy (Phillips, 2005). Moreover, national security became a priority, where counter-terrorism could not be ignored anymore, while establishment of Department of Homeland Security became a prime idea as a result of 9/11 events (Phillips, 2005).

Bush and the administration explanation of the Doctrine

President Bush, together with the administration strategized on ways to communicate and convince the larger American and International audience why the Bush Doctrine was necessary to the national security of America. The understanding and position Bush and the administration took was that, 9/11 events posed great threat to the American security, and this was not a matter to ‘peacefully’ debate upon, but required immediate military actions to eliminate the ‘evildoers’ of the acts (Kaufman, 2007). As a result, the national security of Americans was important and principle priority that no one could postpone through diplomacy. Bush and the administration were convinced that, the fight against terrorism was not an isolationist act, but required comprehensiveness and uttermost urgency. In this regard, preemptive war was needed to supplement the traditional deterrence strategy (Kaufman, 2007). The premise and conviction of the President and the administration was that the terrorist elements were to be confronted with the necessary speed.

In this canon pursue, the rogue states that provide safe haven to terrorists and other support were to be dealt equally like terrorist and as a result, warning directed to such states could no longer be the usual indirect channel of diplomacy interjected with ‘let talk’ aspect (Kaufman, 2007). The public domicile dosage did not end with the issue of national security that Bush administration tried to highlight, but also calculatedly incorporated the need to bring about ‘total’ freedom and democracy in the states of Middle East. The understanding of President Bush and the entire administration was that, Middle East was characterized by ‘culture of tyranny’, which constitutes the main avenue of aggression and subsequently inspires terrorist behaviors and actions (Kaufman, 2007). Middle East, in the eyes of President Bush, was home to aspects of fanatical, aggression, secular, and religious despotisms where ignorance directed to these aspects would further not kill the spirit of terrorism. Middle East became a symbol of religious radicalism, and this posed grave danger to the security of America, since fertile ground for growth and nurture of terrorism could be found here. Therefore, in the ‘wise’ words of President Bush, regime change was necessary to implant suckers of democracy and freedom in this region for the wider security good of American people (Kaufman, 2007). In expressing the urgent need for regime change in Middle East, President Bush did not forget the hard task that awaited Americans in this turmoil work. In the words of the President, this was an undertaking similar to one that the country undertook in Cold War, which was in essence a long struggle; but the country did not waiver until the chains of fascism and communism had been defeated and placed in their rightful place of history.

s a result, the president solicited cooperation for the long journey of defeating a new idea of totalitarian ideology (pervasion of proud religion), which was grounded in secular philosophy and remained a threat to national security of America (Kaufman, 2007). Williams and Schmidt (2007) capture candidly the Bush’s administration explanation for the war on terror when the two authors observe that, the 9/11 events provided fertile ground for Bush to explain how rogue states and terrorists groups possessed wide array of weapons of mass destructions (WMS). Indeed, this in itself made the American soil and world at large unsafe haven to reside. The terrorist in their capacity to shake World Trade Center and the Pentagon had sent a chilling message of how the terrorists were willing and ready to inflict large-scale destruction and death on the people of America.

As a result, President Bush, while commending on the 2002 National Security Strategy plan, retorted that, “we must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends, hence we must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed” (William and Schmidt, 2007, p.5). Further, Bush administration made it clear that the traditional methods of deterrence were no longer viable and effective, and this necessitated urgency for ‘preventive’ tactics to handle terrorists and rogue states effectively.

The influence of Bush Doctrine on War on Terror

The war on terrorism became precise ground on which Bush Doctrine thrived and flourished. Bush intentions became clear and louder in that war on terrorism required global face in terms of cooperation from different states. In realizing and achieving success in war on terrorism, Bush Doctrine became the avenue to fight and defeat Al-Qaeda bases and sympathizers in Afghanistan and Iraq. This ‘rogue’ states became the prime targets of Bush Doctrine, as the emphasis of fight against terrorism shifted from merely following the terrorists but also dismantling their channels and sources of resources, intelligence, operations, and logistics, which according to President Bush, rested with rogue states like Iraq and Afghanistan (Gurtov and Ness, 2005). At the same time, Bush Doctrine emphasized the critical danger imposed by radical Islamism in Middle East.

However, to fight and win war against terrorism, societies in Middle required transformation in terms of democracy and freedom. Hence, Bush emphasized on the great importance of eliminating and fighting radical Islamism (Gurtov and Ness, 2005). Furthermore, the Bush Doctrine identified the potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed to the American security and the world at large, and as a result, there was an urgent need to ‘disarm’ and control spread of weapons among those nations perceived to be dangerous (Gurtov and Ness, 2005). To achieve this, Bush administration saw the need to establish critical bases and alliances that would fight terrorism at all cost. In summary, Bush Doctrine influence on war against terrorism was built on global ideological crusade to see a peaceful world through democracy, freedom and elimination of terrorism, which ideologically was America’s ‘responsibility’ (Gurtov and Ness, 2005).


President Bush ascended to power in 2001 with call for USA foreign policy to embrace ‘humility’.

In this view, maybe Bush did not envision potential of terrorists to the security of America. Towards the end of that year, the unexpected took place, where there was twin bombing of Pentagon and WTC. President Bush, unsure of his earlier words made a dramatic turn and called for urgent and ‘realistic’ means to fighting terrorism. In what became to be known as Bush Doctrine, which enjoyed less acceptance and widespread opposition in the world, the doctrines transformed the USA foreign policy nature. America adopted preemptive war methods as deterrence became somehow ‘ineffective’. Rogue states were to be dealt with and terrorist hot-points dismantled if genuine American security was to be achieved.

In summary, Bush Doctrine changed the American foreign relations course, a fact that has and will impact on American society for a long time.


Buckley, M., & Singh, R.

(2006). The Bush Doctrine and the war on terrorism: Global responses, global consequences. NY: Routledge. Gurtov, M., & Ness, P. V.

(2005). Confronting the Bush doctrine: critical views from the Asia-Pacific. NY: Routledge. Kaufman, R. G.

(2007). In defense of the Bush doctrine. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. Phillips, J. (2005).

Bush speech clarifies the war against terrorism. The Heritage Foundation, October 7. Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2005/10/bush-speech-clarifies-the-war-against-terrorism. Williams, M. C.

, & Schmidt, B. C. (2007).

The Bush Doctrine and the Iraq war: Neoconservatives vs. Realists. The American University of Paris, Working Paper No. 61. Retrieved from http://www.aup.edu/pdf/WPSeries/AUP_wp61-WilliamsSchmidt.pdf.


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