Iran Embraces Bush Doctrine, Press Pulls a Palin

Among the many gaffes by Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign, her “In what respect, Charlie?” response to Charles Gibson’s “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?” stands out as perhaps one of the biggest. After allowing Palin to flail about for a minute or so, Gibson finally explained it to Palin:

The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

Today, speaking to Iran’s Fars News Agency, the Deputy Head of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Logistic and Industrial Research embraced the Bush Doctrine on behalf of Iran:

General Mohammad Hejazi pointed to Iran’s latest strategy to embark on posing threats in response to enemy threats, and explained that the strategy means “we will no more wait to see enemy action against us”.

“Given this strategy, we will make use of all our means to protect our national interests and hit a retaliatory blow at them whenever we feel that enemies want to endanger our national interests,” Hejazi noted.

Despite Iran clearly stating a version of anticipatory self-defense, articles describing these comments from Reuters and the New York Times both fail to mention the parallel of this position with the Bush Doctrine. (As of this writing, the Washington Post does not appear to have written an article on Iran’s comments.)

When Iran says they endorse the Bush Doctrine, Reuters and the New York Times respond, “In what respect, Mohammad?”

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8 replies
  1. b2020 says:

    This is inane. Gibson’s gaffe is much worse than Palin’s, because it demonstrates ignorance of a different kind, or just plain mendacity.

    If even a sellout like Howard Dean could get it right – he was the only Democrat contender in 2004 to explicitly denounce the Bush Doctrine for what it was – then Gibson is more wrong than Palin. See also Barbara Lee’s House Resolutions to disavow, which conveniently were never debated, and which she did not file again once Big Orifice was elected.

    If you have difficulties remembering the difference: The Bush Doctrine is aimed at preventing the need for preemption. It proclaims the intention to prevent others from becoming a peer competitor – that is, acquire the means to be a threat – by any means, including aggressive illegal war, so that their intentions do not matter. The difference between legal and illegal wars is whether or not intention and capability both are clear and unambiguous. The Bush Doctrine targets capabilities by assuming intent.

    This is a pet peeve of mine. Preventive war is illegal. Preemptive war, in certain circumstances, is not. Nuremberg was about the former. The UN Charter addresses the latter.

    The Bush Doctrine of “Preemption” was about illegal, preventive attack. By definition, it is an act of aggressive war meant to prevent an event or development, e.g. a possible threat (such as “weapons programs related activities”). It is elective war against potential and capability.

    In contrast, preemptive war is in response to – necessitated by – actions short of openly declared hostilities that are clearly in preparation of attack: mobilization, forward deployment, encroachment – as well as acts of terrorism and assassination etc. Preemption is about attacking an aggressor right before it can strike.

    That is, of course, a malleable concept, and practically should require UN assembly involvement unless events are progressing too fast, and the aggressor’s intentions are clearly announced and/or beyond doubt. Capabilities alone – esp. not capabilities that do not yet exist, and possibly never will – are not a justification for any claim of “preemption”.

    Under Bush – and, of course, continued by Barack Default Obama in deed if not word – it became the National Security Policy of the USA to preventively declare war on any nation that would, by accident or design, acquire the means to deter the USA from preventive war. In some cases – Russia, China – the declaration that the US will not tolerate a military peer has a bit of a Wagnerian overreach to it, but in others – Iran, but no longer North Korea – this is exactly what is happening: The USA is taking the lead in an international “community” of willing rogue regimes to ignore the UN Charter, the NPT and a host of other precedents and commitments to dictate to a sovereign nation what capabilities it is permitted to have, or strive for.

    The real floater here is the NPT, which has been eviscerated by the failure of the two large – USA, Russia – and mid-sized signatory nuclear powers – China, UK, France – to live up to their solemn commitments of phasing out their own arsenals, to shows some honesty and consistency in their handling of non-signatories – Israel, India, Pakistan – as well as North Korea. The NPT was a fraud from the start, not just with respect to the commitments of nuclear powers, but also with respect to the many issues of dual use and “civilian” nuclear technology.

    If the US government is alarmed at the prospect of an Iranian nuke, the proper response is a strengthening and revitalization of the NPT, a renewal of a commitment to nuclear disarmament, and a move away from aggressive, preemptive posturing, starting with a clear “no first use” declaration. But then, this has never been about what is proper, or legal, or just.

    The same Expedience First approach that put the US in bed with Pakistan, and has the issue of North Korean nukes fester, becomes a different calculus when one non-signatory nuclear regime with a completely unmonitored arsenal and decades of history of ignoring UN resolutions and breaking international law – Israel – is pitted a regime that will not have nuclear weapons for years to come, is a signatory to the NPT, and at least pretends to address its non-compliance.

    At the end of the day, it isn’t even about the nukes. It is about hegemony. Nukes just happen to be a means to limit it, which North Korea has amply demonstrated.

    It should be noted that neither Israel nor the USA have grounds for preemptive attack against Iran at this point – intention might be there, capability is not. The reverse, however, is increasingly an open question, as US and Israeli government intentions have been expressed at least as clearly as that of some parts of the Iranian government, and the capabilities have been demonstrated repeatedly, up to and including to a major clearly illegal war in Iraq, several undeclared wars that are at the least unconstitutional, an decades-long occupation found illegal in as many UN resolutions as ever filed against Sadam Hussein’s Iraq, and an elective war in Afghanistan defended by misrepresentations such as this
    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/20/hypnotized_into_an_endless_dirty_war/singleton/
    as commentators over there pointed out.

    The Bush Doctrine has from the start been misrepresented as “preemptive”. If it was, it would have been nothing new, or radical, just a rehash of principles enshrined in the UN charter, and informed by the post-Nuremberg thinking about the legality of war. Of course, Dean, Barbara Lee and the handful of co-sponsors of her bill must have been wrong, as well as everybody else who spoke up at the time. Given how deafening their silence today, as the US gears up for another elective, aggressive, and presumably illegal war, I suppose it is true that newfound clarity has descended on this blighted nation.

    See here for the original – or read the two indentical filings in subsequent Congress 109 and 110
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hr108-141

  2. PeasantParty says:

    Keller? Where are you?

    You have some splainin to do. We must call for an investigation into NYT, Reuters, and now MSNBC! This all their fault, and especially because they run a false narrative.

  3. rg says:

    AS b2020 @ 2 states well, (and Wittgenstein also noted) nonsense arises when words are not used with care. Here we have Gen. Hejazi remarking that “we will wait no more to see enemy action against us”. That is he will not deal with observed facts, but with something else. Then he tells us: “We will hit a retaliatory blow at them whenever we feel that enemies want to endanger our interests”. Instead of dealing with real events, the General is claiming to take action in the event of feelings about the wants of those perceived as enemies. And yes, as White astutely observes Bush started it and others followed along. It seems petulant for me to note the absurdity of the use of the word “retaliatory” in this context, but here we are. I think this serves as a reminder of what happens when prescribed social behavior that we call “probable cause” and “due process” are thrown over for more expedient actions, and then we have to live with the repercussions of all that.

  4. eCAHNomics says:

    It’s too late for Iran to act preemptively. It has been under attack from Israel, U.S., Saudis for years now.

  5. Bob Schacht says:

    Old Dead Thread revisited:
    Time to Institute the Random Penis Swabs

    Sometimes I think EW must have graduated from the Wonkette School of Journalism, with instruction from Ana Marie Cox, the original Wonkette. She was the one who originally drew me into the blogosphere, but the Wonkette just wasn’t the same without her, so I wound up over here. To remind you of the good old days at Wonkette, here is her latest column:
    Why Is Rick Santorum Obsessed With Your Sex Life?. I was clued to this by Reader Supported News, founded by Marc Ash, a helpful news aggregator that also supports original reports, which provides this graphic of Santorum. I like to imagine that what he was saying at the time was, “And mine is *this* long!”

    Please excuse this digression.

    Bob in AZ

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