harm – including using force first (Dodge 2002, 4).34 Following the World Trade Center
and Pentagon terrorist attacks, Bush outlined a major shift in U.S. foreign policy from
containment35 to preemption: “Our security will require all Americans to be forward-
looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our
liberty and to defend our lives” (quoted in PBS Online 2003, The Evolution of the Bush
Doctrine). The Bush Doctrine argued that older foreign policies would not be effective
in dealing with non-democratic regimes such as Iraq and with non-state actors such as Al
Qaeda.36 The president described the enemy as one America had never before
encountered, an enemy who operated in the shadows. “This is an enemy that tries to
hide, but it won’t be able to hide forever,” said Bush (quoted in Woodward 2002, 45).
Thus, the central tenet of the United States’ new strategic posture dictated that America
would not wait to be attacked, but move proactively to disrupt and defeat terrorists and
tyrants (The White House 2002, 6). Because of the immediacy of today’s threats and the
magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by these adversaries’ choices of
34 Bush’s National Security Strategy noted that international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack, nothing that scholars often conditioned “the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat” (White House 2002, 15). However, administration officials have stressed that the kind of preemptive actions that are envisaged by the Bush Doctrine are not exclusively military; nevertheless it clearly allows for armed strikes as a last resort.
35 As originally used by George Kennan, containment is “the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies … designed to present the Russians with unalterable counter-force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world” (Kennan 1951, 99, 104).
36 In After Victory (2001), John Ikenberry acknowledged that democratic states had a built-in advantage in the process of ensuring predictability and accountability over non-democracies. “When a state is open and transparent to outside states, it reduces the surprises and allows other states to monitor the domestic decision making that attends the exercise of power,” noted the author (Ikenberry 2001, 62). Ikenberry, however, felt that even in the case of non-democracies, mechanisms could be created in the process of bonding (Ikenberry 2001, 61).