The Bush Doctrine, whatever it may have been cannot be considered absent the Powell Doctrine which was the military strategy of Desert Storm. The Powell Doctrine was the reaction to the Vietnam Syndrome. In short, the army we had was led by the generals working under the Shock and Awe doctrine of Colin Powell, whose principle was to use overwhelming force, crush the opposition and leave. NOT to hang around and try to rebuild a country you just destroyed.
Saddam Hussein had a million man army, and Powell was insistent, in a voice we haven’t heard since that state actors supporting terrorist networks were a greater threat than mere terrorist cells. It didn’t matter, thus, if Iraq were actually at war with the US, Al Qaeda would inevitably seek support in Iraq against the US.
So when I think of the Bush Doctrine, I think of his declaration of America’s top three enemies ‘The Axis of Evil’ in Iran, Iraq and North Korea, three regimes who were clearly American enemies and who would use their state’s resources to fund terror networks in asymmetrical warfare against the US.
Was Iraq closer than Iran in their race for an Islamic Bomb? I say demonstrably yes, and the Bush Administration, in cooperation with the UN and every nation did its best to keep nuclear inspectors engaged to a degree much higher and much more intrusively than we do today in Iran or North Korea.
The Bush Doctrine to me did not begin and end with OIF. But OIF failed to achieve its long term goals because of the complete difference in the methodology of warfare established by Colin Powell on one hand and David Petraeus on the other.
It is inherently difficult, if not impossible, to wage partial war and counter-insurgency as Petreaus executed, and have enough control over an entire nation to transform its political economy so long as Petraeus is bound to work within the constraints of Powell. And in 2007 and 2008, the American public backed Powell. The mandate was clear. GET OUT.
So America has proven in Iraq that a nation that wants to war against another must colonize it in order to establish justice. Americans didn’t want that. Americans wanted to give Iraq a beautiful human rights laden new constitution. But it didn’t want to enforce the laws of that constitution. America wanted its troops back home, period. Forget that there are American troops in Germany, Korea, Okinawa.
The Bush Doctrine thus in my mind can be thought of as the last time America may ever go to rescue people of other nations from their dictators and give the gift of independent democracy. From here on out, the gift of democracy will come with the cost of colonization. So GWBush will be according to my theory, the last generous war president.
Coming back to the top, it is still true that state actors supporting terrorist networks are still dangerous. This is exactly what Iran is still doing. It is using asymmetrical warfare and colonization tactics through Hamas and Hezbollah which it controls. Iran is politicizing Islam and making Islamists of Muslims all over MENA. The ability of those Islamists to strike at America is attritted due to the work of American counter-intelligence etc. Obama’s drone strikes are part of the continuing defense of America.
Invading Iraq was costly in more ways than can be adequately described here, but it also drained the swamp of a world of Islamist fighters who jumped at the chance to kill Americans. Many tried, few succeeded. But it was not Bush’s war alone. It was America’s war, and part of it continues whether or not people want to acknowledge the Axis of Evil.
The very existence of ISIL/Daesh should be all the proof anyone needs to resolve the question of whether or not the Islamofascist threat was imaginary.