The Bush Doctrine: Use Pre-emptive Strikes

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During the commencement address at the West Point Military Academy this past weekend, President Bush broke new ground in describing how the United States needs to carry out its war on terrorism.

“If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long,” Bush said.

“In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action… our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.”

The concept of pre-emptive strikes is a revolutionary in U.S. military strategy. It is the latest corollary to the Bush Doctrine, which was founded the week of September 11th when the President said, “we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

This hour, Michael Walzer, one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the morality of war, discusses the latest addition to the Bush Doctrine. What does it mean when the U.S. begins to use pre-emptive strikes?


Michael Walzer, professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, author of “Just and Unjust Wars”