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weapons, the United States could not permit its enemies to strike first (The White House

2002, 15).

These threats led the Bush administration to develop a strategy of offensive

defense. When it comes to dealing with totalitarian regimes and terrorist organizations,

the United States could not expect the bad guys to be good citizens in the international

community. More to the point, rogue states and terrorists would not play by existing

rules of the game (The White House 2002, 15). Bush noted, “If we wait for threats to

fully materialize, we will have waited too long. […] The war on terror will not be won on

the defensive (quoted in Podhoretz 2002, In Praise of the Bush Doctrine). “This is the

time for self-defense,” the president declared during a meeting with his senior advisors,

according to National Security Council notes. “We have to make it clear […] this is

showtime” (quoted in Woodward 2002, 31). The United States could not place its

security in jeopardy by dealing with actors operating outside the conventions of

international law by acquiring or selling dangerous weapons. As Wolfowitz stated, while

laws, judges, and trials are what the country “wants for our domestic political process …

foreign policy decisions cannot be subject to that kind of rule of law” (Kagan and Kristol

2000, 334).

The Bush Doctrine developed a storyline linking America’s own role and

character to the historical and natural forces at work for the cowboy in the Wild West.37

Using cowboy ethics was for the frontiersman a means to justify that might was right

(Emmert 1996, 15). Like the cowboy, the nature of the threat America faced would

37 For another perspective on this, Slotkin wrote that politicians adopt the Western to rationalize America’s development into an imperial Great Power by asserting “a similar privilege for the use of armed force and to justify, in the name of national security, the evasion, abuse, or overriding of

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