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dictate the country’s action. Defending the United States against its enemies is the “first

and fundamental commitment of the federal government,” asserted the administration’s

National Security Strategy (The White House 2002, iv). Accordingly, in the war against

terrorism, Bush could not defend America and its friends “by hoping for the best”

(quoted in Podhoretz 2002, In Praise of the Bush Doctrine). As the president elaborated,

“We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrant, who solemnly sign nonproliferation

treaties, and then systematically break them” (quoted in Podhoretz 2002, In Praise of the

Bush Doctrine). Like the cowboy, Bush communicates the moral motives for his right to

preempt. Bush claimed that the right to self-defense should extend to authorizing

preemptive attacks against potential aggressors, cutting them off before they are able to

launch strikes against the United States (Woodward 2002, 30). In order to safeguard the

security and liberty being threatened by the terrorists, the United States had little choice

but to abide by the Code of the West, i.e. the cowboy’s duty-bound system of moral

standards. “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” said Bush (quoted in PBS Online 2003, The Evolution of the Bush Doctrine). Bush

prepared the ground for preemptive action by developing a justification that an attack

against Iraq and Afghanistan would be acts of self-defense. The National Security

Strategy of the United States of America released in September 2002 stated that

sometimes “[America’s] best defense is a good offense” (The White House 2002, 6). In

this fashion, the Bush Doctrine was a call to strike first and strike hard.38

the official procedures and social institutions through which the American public registers consent” (Slotkin 1998, 349-353).

38 Tom Barry discussed Bush’s “war for peace” doctrine in PNAC’s Presents Dangers. He compared Bush’s foreign policy to Teddy Roosevelt’s model of “conservative internationalism,”

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