Canadians on to Bush Doctrine

I saw something yesterday on Global Sunday - Canada's version of Meet the Press - that you would never see in the United States. "Resistance is Futile!: Who's Behind the Bush Doctrine," opened with scenes of Bush making his made-for-tv landing last week on the USS Abraham Lincoln, to the sounds of Bobby McFerrin's 1988 hit, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." The irony wasn't lost on me. That song was a big hit for McFerrin the same year that George Bush took over where Ronald Reagan had left off as President. Fifteen years later, Baby Bush is positively glowing from victory in a war against the same opponent whom his father fought, but with a decidedly different outcome.

Maybe Bush's father made the mistake of fighting a war which ended. Bush's War on Terrorism is open-ended, and other opponents are already teed up: Syria, North Korea, Iran, and who knows, maybe France someday. Are these people just more comfortable ruling under a siege mentality? They're always "defending" themselves against some elusive and often ambiguous enemy, like Hitler and the Anarchists, or Reagan and the Communists in Russia and Central America, and now Bush and terrorists in the Middle East.

Global Sunday's host Danielle Smith answered the question, "Who's Behind the Bush Doctrine," by interviewing Richard Perle to begin the segment. That's right, the same Richard Perle who has continued to profit from war by playing both sides, advising the President to spend money on the military while getting consulting fees from military contractors. Perle was arrogant, patronizing, condescending and disrespectful, as always. He could barely contain his smug laughter as he dodged Smith's honest questions:

Smith: We hear about the Bush doctrine, can you explain to us what are the elements of the Bush doctrine?

Perle: I think it's very simple and straightforward and really just common sense. In a world in which there are threats and dangers we have to be prepared to forestall those threats if we possibly can. This has lead to ideas about pre-emptive attack. But pre-emptive attack is little more than intervening before you can be struck. No-one would quarrel I assume that with the idea that if we saw a missile on a launch pad about to be fired at us, we could take it out first if we were capable of doing that. There's a lot of controversy about how much evidence you need and how imminent the attack is. But the notion of self-defence without waiting to be struck is certainly a widely accepted idea, but somehow when it's part of the Bush doctrine it comes in for a lot of criticism.

Smith: Critics say that pre-emptive attacks may violate international law, is that not the case?

Perle: Well I think that international law has always recognized the right of countries to defend themselves. It's enshrined in the United Nations charter, in article 51. There will always be controversy about the facts. But about the principle that a country about to come under attack can forestall that attack, on that principle international law is very clear.

Smith: What the idea of acting unilaterally also a part of the Bush doctrine?

Perle: Well if we are challenged with a threat to our security and we are the only ones who recognize that threat and take it seriously then we may be in a situation where we alone can act. We certainly cannot fail to defend ourselves because we can't get others to support the idea that we should defend ourselves.

Perle went on to make other dishonest and patently ridiculous claims: that Clinton is to blame for September 11, that Bush is "in charge," that this "war" was unplanned, is open-ended and will continue to be fought on foreign soil:
Smith: Is it fair to say that this type of foreign policy is the policy that you've wanted to see in place for some time?

Perle: It certainly is the policy that I've wanted to see and I think we suffered by having a less than robust policy in the past. September 11th was in part the product the failure to deal with past terrorist episodes in which we were attacked principally overseas, our ships, our embassies and we did little or nothing to respond to it so the terrorists became bolder and bolder.

Smith: But the water-cooler talk in Canada is that there's this conservative plot to control the White House and you're part of it, how do you respond to that?

Perle: Well, anyone who's met this president will understand that he decides these questions in policy for himself and he's been faced with a situation that is called for new policies and he is settled on policies that I think reflect good common sense. I think the people who argue that a small group have taken over the White House are having trouble accepting that these policies are valid. They don't like the policies and therefore they assume that there must be some origin source for these policies other than the president's own good judgement and I think they're looking for conspiracies when in fact common sense is the answer.

Smith: But how long range is this plan?

Perle: There's no plan as such. There's simply an approach to dealing with threats to our security and I'm afraid that until we can pronounce that we are no longer vulnerable to terrorist action, we're going to have to continue to pursue terrorists where we find them and sometime that will be outside the United States.