BUSH DOCTRINE, R.I.P…. Eight years ago, then-President George W. Bush delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and presented a vision that some labeled the “Bush Doctrine.” His vision was one of pre-emption — the United States would launch military strikes against potential foes, with or without international support, before the threat was imminent. “If we wait for threats to fully materialize,” he said, “we will have waited too long.”
Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the same venue, and offered a fundamentally different view of how the nation would execute its national security strategy going forward.
President Obama previewed a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he essentially repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war.
Eight years after President George W. Bush came to the United States Military Academy to set a new security doctrine after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Obama used the same setting to offer a revised vision vowing no retreat against enemies while seeking “national renewal and global leadership.”
“Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system,” the president told graduating cadets. “But America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation. We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice, so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and face consequences when they don’t.”
Mr. Obama said the United States would “be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well,” while also trying to “build new partnerships and shape stronger international standards and institutions.” He added: “This engagement is not an end in itself. The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times.”
The president is schedule to formally unveil a National Security Strategy this week, but we can safely consider his remarks yesterday as a sneak preview.
Spencer Ackerman has more, including his description of Obama’s vision: “[A]n assertive multilateralism with ‘American innovation’ — that is, a vigorous, healthy and balanced American economy — at the core of the international order. And it’s a rejection of the proposition that American power is either restricted by international cooperation or generally on the decline.”