On Monday, Francis Fukuyama published a piece in London's Financial Times arguing that the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war is "in shambles" and "is unlikely to have a lasting impact on U.S. foreign policy in future administrations."  --  This proposition would be welcome news if it were true, but Fukuyama's intellectual buffoonery is so laughable in this piece that it cannot be taken seriously.  --  He claims to believe, for example, that the Bush doctrine "was a logical and well thought-out response."  --  But how well thought-out can it have been, if it is only useful in conditions "that, in the real world, . . . almost never exist," as Fukuyama admits?  --  Reuben Fine said of the game of chess, "Frequently a line which carries out the basic idea and is therefore strategically sound must be rejected because there is a tactical refutation:  it just won't work" (The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings [New York: McKay, 1989; orig. ed. 1943], p. 4).  --  The "Bush doctrine" is just the same, except that not only will it not work, it's a moral abomination to boot.  --  No wonder there has been, in Fukuyama's words, "a seismic shift in the way much of the world perceives the U.S., whose image is no longer the Statue of Liberty but the hooded prisoner at Abu Ghraib."  --  And does the author of The End of History really expect us to believe he thinks that "Failure to find Iraqi WMD exposed the limits of U.S. intelligence capabilities," when documentary evidence has confirmed that "the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy," as the Downing Street Memorandum put it?  --  As for Fukuyama's assertion that "I do not believe that most administration officials were contemptuous of global public opinion," it is hard to read this without laughing out loud.  --  Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith wrote a few months ago:  "The Bush administration scarcely conceals its contempt for the opinion of its own allies, let alone the opinion of its critics.  When millions of people around the world demonstrated against the U.S. attack on Iraq, Bush referred to it contemptuously as a 'focus group.'"  --  As Rahul Mahajan said at the time:  "After the February 15 protests against the war . . . the Bush administration made clear its contempt for public opinion as it drove relentlessly to war with Iraq."  --  Francis Fukuyama makes his contempt for public opinion just as clear in publishing this drivel....


By Francis Fukuyama

Financial Times (UK)
October 10, 2005

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/0621d07c-39b7-11da-806e-00000e2511c8.html (subscribers only)

The “Bush doctrine,” as elaborated by George W. Bush in earlier speeches as well as in the National Security Strategy of the United States in September 2002, was a logical and well thought-out response to the terrorist threat in the wake of September 11, 2001. A senior Clinton administration official once confided privately that in their eight years, the Clintonites never managed to produce a strategy of comparable sophistication. Nonetheless, in Mr. Bush’s second term, its key components lie in shambles. The doctrine is unlikely to have a lasting impact on U.S. foreign policy in future administrations, Republican or Democrat.

The first aspect of the “doctrine” concerned the pre-emptive use of force. The NSS argued quite cogently that in the face of suicide terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction, deterrence and containment -- the centerpieces of Cold War strategy -- would not work, and that the U.S. needed, as the president has repeatedly stated, to fight them “over there” rather than waiting for them to attack the American homeland.

Pre-emption, as John Lewis Gaddis has noted, is not a new idea in American strategic thinking; it was used or considered at various times such as in the Cuban missile crisis. What was innovative about the NSS was how it collapsed the distinction between pre-emption (against an imminent attack) and preventive war (in which the threat lay several months or years in the future) and argued that the post 9/11 environment required the latter against rogue state proliferators harbouring terrorists.

Under the right circumstances, it is impossible to make a normative case against preventive war: if suicide terrorists with WMD are clearly planning an attack on the U.S. on the territory of another country, it is hard to argue that America does not have the right to take matters into its own hands rather than wait for United Nations Security Council permission to act. Even the U.N.’s High Level Panel on reform admitted as much. The problem is that, in the real world, such conditions almost never exist. We seldom have good information about our enemies’ capabilities or reliable ways to predict their future behavior. Failure to find Iraqi WMD exposed the limits of U.S. intelligence capabilities. The Bush administration merged the terrorism/WMD problem with the rogue state/proliferation problem in a way that skewed the risk-reward calculation toward preventive war. The Iraq war showed that traditional prudential strictures against preventive war (Bismarck once called preventive war “committing suicide for fear of death”) remain valid even in an age of suicide terrorism.

The second dimension of the Bush doctrine has to do with its approach to allies and legitimacy, also known as “unilateralism.” I do not believe that most administration officials were contemptuous of global public opinion. Many felt, however, that legitimacy had to be won ex post, rather than ex ante via a Security Council resolution. Officials such as Donald Rumsfeld believed, not unreasonably, that the collective action mechanisms of the U.N. and of the Europeans were broken, as evidenced most recently in the Balkans where only U.S. leadership brought the Bosnian and Kosovar conflicts to a close. In its own eyes, the Bush administration was playing the role of “benevolent hegemon,” providing global public goods that the rest of the international community could not.

The Bush administration failed to anticipate the almost uniformly hostile reaction to benevolent hegemony, not only among those countries traditionally hostile to U.S. purposes, but also among America’s closest European allies. Legitimacy came neither ex ante nor ex post. At an elite level, leaders may seek to restore good relations with Washington out of self-interest, but at a mass level there has been a seismic shift in the way much of the world perceives the U.S., whose image is no longer the Statue of Liberty but the hooded prisoner at Abu Ghraib.

There are several reasons for this. A hegemon has to be perceived not just as benevolent but competent. With the administration’s failure to find Iraqi WMD and its bungling of the Iraq reconstruction process, Washington’s credibility plummeted. The Bush doctrine’s preventive war doctrine was, moreover, based on implicit assertion of U.S. exceptionalism. Given that the U.S. would almost certainly criticize a similar anti-terrorist policy proclaimed by Russia, China, or India, its assertion of this right rested on the premise that America is somehow more disinterested than other nations. Americans may believe in their own good intentions but international legitimacy emerges only if others do as well. Long before the Iraq war, Americans failed to perceive deep currents of anti-Americanism building up.

The final aspect of the Bush doctrine, democracy promotion via coercive regime change, was again something whose defects were practical rather than normative. The Iraq war seems to have been planned on the assumption that democracy was a kind of default condition to which societies reverted once tyrants were removed, rather than a collection of complex institutions that needed to be painstakingly built over years. The administration grossly underestimated the costs and capabilities required to stabilize Iraq.

The best way to assess the durability of the Bush doctrine is to ask how likely it is to be applied again in the future -- that is, how ready is the U.S. to again intervene unilaterally to topple a rogue state proliferator and engage in another nation-building exercise? The answer comes from the Bush administration itself, which has already backed away from military confrontations with both North Korea and Iran in favour of multilateral approaches, despite much clearer evidence of nuclear programs in those countries. This suggests the doctrine has not survived into Mr. Bush’s second term, much less become a permanent component of U.S. strategy against global terrorism.

--The writer is professor of international political economy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and editorial chairman of the American Interest, a new magazine.