The first term of the George W. Bush presidency and what has come to be known as the “Bush Doctrine” were marked by a profound and forceful reaction to September 11, 2001. Determined to prevent further, murderous attacks on the United States, Mr. Bush and his national security team were determined to “drain the swamps” from whence terrorists received safe havens and other forms of support. Out went the sort of “stability” born of accommodations with totalitarians and favored by the foreign policy establishment’s so-called “realists.” In came a U.S. commitment to bringing down the “axis of evil,” in favor of a world ordered by liberty and democracy.
Today, we are seeing the emergence of what might be described as “Bush Doctrine 2.0.” It bears no similarity to the first edition. In fact, it pretty much repudiates everything Mr. Bush stood for during his first four years in office. Worse yet, it threatens to render his legacy not simply one of unrealized goals but of betrayed principles, abandoned friends and unscrupulous deals with tyrants sure to perpetuate their odious regimes.
Herewith a sampling of the unraveling of Mr. Bush’s policies:
* Appeasing North Korea: Early in the first Bush administration, the President to his credit candidly revealed to Bob Woodward that he loathed Kim Jong Il’s brutally repressive police state. After the North Koreans acknowledged lying about their nuclear weapons program, he strove to intensify Kim’s isolation in the hope of neutralizing the threat thus posed and, with luck, to bring him down.
Mr. Bush was subsequently induced to believe that this goal could be advanced best by enlisting the North’s regional neighbors – including its enablers, China, Russia and South Korea – in so-called “six-party talks.” Even as it became ever more apparent that Pyongyang’s allies were using those negotiations to thwart the original Bush Doctrine, not advance it, the President clung to this approach and eschewed bilateral talks with, to say nothing of appeasement of, the North.
Now, however, the U.S. envoy to those talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, has eviscerated the original Bush policy. In the name of obtaining still more vacuous promises of nuclear disarmament from Kim Jong-Il, Hill is not only negotiating directly and bilaterally with Pyongyang. He has promised to remove North Korea from the list of state-sponsors of terrorism, despite mounting evidence that the North is actively engaged in the ultimate support for terrorism: proliferating nuclear weapons technology to the likes of two others on that infamous list: Syria and Iran.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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