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What is The Bush Doctrine?

- The doctrine is based on preventive war, which refers to the "use of force against mere suspicion of possible attacks", coupled with the right to self-defense in cases that are considered fair.

What is The Bush Doctrine?

At the end of the Cold War in 1989, the international system went from being a bipolar one to a unipolar one, in which the United States came to have hegemony. However, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York, American sentiment completely changed to be the first time they suffered an attack within their territory. Because of this, the United States changed its foreign policy towards one focused on combating terrorism.

Said redirection of foreign and security policy materialized in the Bush Doctrine, which "supposes the definitive break with the multilateral principles that guided Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., and is linked, in a certain way, with the idea of a 'benign empire' established by Ronald Reagan” (González, 2002, par. 4). The doctrine was named like this since it was during the mandate of the then president of the United States, George W. Bush, in which the national security document emerged.

The doctrine is based on preventive war, which refers to the "use of force against mere suspicions of possible attacks", coupled with the right to self-defense in cases that are considered fair. Likewise, the document by which the Bush Doctrine is known is titled The new national security strategy of the United States, which was published in September 2002. It should be noted that "the draft, written by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, it was much tougher."

The principles of the doctrine are based on four fundamental pillars: “the maintenance of US military primacy; the adoption of preventive warfare as a complement to traditional deterrence; the war against terrorism; and democratization”. such principles expressed themselves in an article in El País, in which Bush proclaimed that the security strategy

It will be based on a typical American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests.' The text officially establishes that the United States is above international institutions such as the UN: it will work with them, but without feeling obligated to follow their instructions or respect their agreements, which do apply to the rest of the countries.

Buckley (2006) mentions that "the enunciation of this doctrine generated intense and widespread international controversy" . Due to the very premise of the Bush Doctrine, the best defense is offense, the United States faced Russia, China, Germany and others to carry out the invasion of Iraq for alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. In this sense, Bush pursued a purely unilateral agenda, arguing that there was evidence of ties to Al Queda, since Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. However, even before the invasion, there was evidence that these statements were false, because according to the Chief Inspector of the United Nations (UN), the detection technology showed that Iraq did not actually possess nuclear weapons. Another example was the invasion of Afghanistan.

Likewise, it should be noted that one of the criticisms of the approach of the Bush doctrine was a rather arbitrary one, since according to Caro (2006), the United States promoted military actions only against some countries that possess or are presumed to possess weapons of mass destruction”, these countries are known as the “Axis of Evil”, which includes the countries of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Another criticism is about its isolationist character, since the abandonment of the United States of the Kyoto Protocol, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that it had with Russia, its refusal to sign the treaty that establishes the International Criminal Court, etc.

Finally, it is concluded that the Bush doctrine was not one of the reasons why the United States continued to intervene or interfere in the sovereignty of other States. A quite active foreign policy is perceived in the international arena at the end of the Second World War.

During the Cold War, policy was focused on preventing the spread of communism and Soviet influence. In the current century, the reason is to fight terrorism, hiding behind a strong national security discourse that justifies xenophobic actions in one way or another. All this only attributes to thinking of the United States as, once again, "the police of the world."


    González, Enric. (20 de septiembre de 2002). Bush convierte el ataque preventivo en la doctrina estratégica de EE UU. En El País. Recuperado el 1 de marzo de 2022 de 5.html

    Barcelata, Hilario. (s.f). La Doctrina Bush y el Fin de la Historia: Una reflexión sobre el futuro de la humanidad. Recuperado el 1 de marzo de 2022 de y-el-fin-de-la-historia.pdf

    Caro, Octavio. (2006). La doctrina Bush de la guerra preventiva: ¿Evolución del “ius ad bellum” o vuelta al Medioevo? En Revista FACULTAD DE DERECHO Y CIENCIAS POLÍTICAS, vol. 36, no. 105, pp. 399-429.

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AUTOR, SIN. “¿ Qué es La Doctrina Bush? .” CEMERI, 9 sept. 2022,