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against terrorism there can be no moderates, only those for or against the United States

(Dodge 2002, Storming the Desert).

Just like the classic Western, Bush the cowboy neither accommodates nor

negotiates with the bad guy.31 Westerns stuck to a clear black and white pattern to

simplify conflict (Emmert 1996, 7). In this film genre, the good guy wears the white hat

and the bad guy dons the black one (Schneider 2002, A Reagan Echo).32 All qualities,

good and bad, are intensified and accentuated in the life of the Wild West (Slotkin rev.

ed. 1998, 50). Accordingly, cowboy ethics behold the world in stark contrast of black

and white; there is good and then there is evil. Like the cowboy, who was the good guy

fighting the bad men, the Bush Doctrine sees the role of the United States as that of a

“benevolent hegemony” (Kagan and Kristol 2000, 289-305). The underlying ideological

principle of the Bush Doctrine is that American power is a force of good: “There is no

doubt in my mind we’re doing the right thing. Not one doubt,” said Bush (quoted in

Woodward 2002, 256). America’s responsibility to history was “to answer these attacks

and rid the world of evil” (Bush 2001, National Day of Prayer). To put it in Bush’s

rhetoric, the war on terrorism was a showdown in the “monumental struggle of good

versus evil” (quoted in Sandalow 2001, A7). At the core of the Bush Doctrine was the

31 I am here referring to Bush’s image as an unwavering politician. In actuality, Bush has compromised in several policy negotiations. For instance, he opposed creating a separate department of homeland security but then embraced it when it was inevitable. In addition, he dropped school vouchers from his education package the instant he knew he could not win. And when it appeared that his proposed $726 billion tax cut would not survive in Congress intact, Bush preemptively lowered his target figure by one-third – acting as though he had always hoped for a tax cut totaling $550 billion (Kornblut 2003, 16).

32 This is an exaggeration, but it is commonly known that in Westerns the good guys wear the white hats and the bad guys wear the black hats: “There was good and evil, and the two were easily discernible by the color of their Stetsons” (Haley 2003, B-07).


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