have to defend the American people, and if no one else is with us, then we will defend
ourselves alone. No American president can concede that responsibility to a coalition or
to anyone else” (quoted in DeYoung 2001, A01).
Provocation was one tool of the Bush Doctrine (Woodward 2000, 145). The Bush
administration continually talks tough in the war on terror waged against Afghanistan and
Iraq.68 In an interview, Bush had expressed his duty as president to be provocative and
“to provoke people into – to force decisions, and to make sure it’s clear in everybody’s
mind where we’re headed” (quoted in Woodward 2002, 144). Such bellicose actions led
journalist Jaime Glazov to assert that had the president been polite and civil, the United
States might still be stuck with an unacceptable status quo (Glazov 2002, The Bush
Doctrine). In concurrence, William Schneider wrote, “In some ways, Bush’s tough
policy appears to be working. [...] Our enemies are all acting scared” (Schneider 2002, A
Cowboy ethics, whether used as rhetorical flourishes or actual policy decisions,
reaffirms the legitimacy of an American preventive strike and emphasizes the Bush
Doctrine’s notion from his September 20, 2001 speech that “if you are not with us, you
are against us” (quoted in Glazov 2002, The Bush Doctrine). Simply put, there can be no
acceptable compromise with the forces of evil; there can be no reasonable restraint on the
forces of good.
68 A good example comes from Perle, who told a journalist, “We could deliver a short message [to other hostile regimes in the Middle East]: ‘You’re next’” (Flynn 2003, 3). In another incident, the president raised a few eyebrows with one of his provocations. Taunting the militants who had been attacking U.S. troops since the toppling of Hussein’s regime, Bush promised to “deal with them harshly” if attacks continued (quoted in Milibank and Vernon 2003, A01). “Bring ‘em on,” goaded he president; he asserted that American forces in Iraq were “plenty tough” to deal with their threats (quoted in Milibank and Vernon 2003, A01).