- The Problem of Conjecture: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine
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- by Ferguson, Niall
- It is now nearly five years since President Bush promulgated what has become known as "the Bush Doctrine". The seminal document, published above the President’s signature twelve months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and entitled National Security Strategy of the United States, argued that because "deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network or murderous dictator … constitute as grave a threat as can be imagined", the President as commander-in-chief should, at his discretion, "act preemptively" to forestall or prevent any such threat. "As a matter of common sense and self-defense", the President stated, the United States would “act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed” and before they reached America’s borders. NSS-2002 asserted not only the principle of preemption but also the principle of unilateralism. "While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community," the document declared, "we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary..." At the time, and subsequently, the two principles of preemption and unilateralism were widely criticized as dangerous novelties in American foreign policy.
- Publication Type: WCFIA Working Paper
- Published Date: September 8, 2007
- Field of Interest: International Relations
- Ferguson, Niall. "The Problem of Conjecture: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine." Working Paper 2008-0121, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, September 8, 2007.