ethics can be used to morally enunciate action. “Wishful thinking,” Bush once said to
members of the Reichstag, “might bring comfort, but not security” (Fields 2002, A19).
For Bush, noble sentiments alone do not amount to much, the United States has to be
ready to act: “Confident action that will yield positive results provides kind of a
slipstream into which reluctant nations and leaders can get behind and show themselves
that there has been […] something positive has happened toward peace” stated Bush in an
interview (quoted in Woodward 2002, 341).66 In other words, the United States must be
prepared to defeat enemy plans (The White House 2002, iv-vi). As the president
explained in the National Security Strategy, “History will judge harshly those who saw
this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to
peace and security is the path of action” (The White House 2002, ii).
To defend the United States, Bush had to show that he meant business.67
Americans must be ready to use preemptive action to defend its citizens’ liberty and
lives. For instance, when the United Nations announced on March 17, 2003 that they
would let the second resolution on weapons inspection die without a vote, Bush went on
national television that night to announce: “The United Nations Security Council has not
lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours” (quoted in Woodward 2002, 356).
Two days later, the official war in Iraq began. “At the end of the day,” said Perle, “we
“cowboys” who “acted, unafraid, in doing so” (quote from Buckley’s “High Noon in Europe” (2003)). See also Goldberg’s “The Cowboy Way” (2003).
66 Brookings Institution presidential scholar Thomas Mann declared, “He’s ambitious, he’s decisive, and he doesn’t have second thoughts. He's not a man prone to great reflection or internal debate” (quoted in Kornblut 2003, 16).
67 Bush said in an interview that he felt the responsibility to show resolve: “I had to show the American people the resolve of a commander in chief that was going to do whatever it took to win. No yielding. No equivocation. No, you know, lawyering [sic] this thing to death, that we’re after ‘em. And that was not only for domestic, for the people at home to see. It was also vitally important for the rest of the world to watch” (quoted in Woodward 2002, 96).