Bush Doctrine

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri (PHOTO/PBS)

“If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable,” Barack Obama said, describing his vision for America’s national security, “then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.”

Obama later estimated that Iran has the technology to acquire a nuclear weapon before the end of his term, thus admitting his lack of leadership to protect the United States from a nuclear war.

Six nations told the International Atomic Energy Agency that they would also seek to obtain nuclear weapons if Iran gets one. The spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) would thus be inevitable, according to Foreign Affairs.

The dangers of Iran’s entry into the nuclear club are well known: emboldened by this development, Tehran might multiply its attempts at subverting its neighbors and encouraging terrorism against the United States and Israel; the risk of both conventional and nuclear war in the Middle East would escalate; more states in the region might also want to become nuclear powers; the geopolitical balance in the Middle East would be reordered; and broader efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons would be undermined.

Iran could succeed in its defiance for nuclear technology, with Obama stalling for time to make excuses. But that doesn’t take into account the possibility of domestic terrorists in America, where a suicide bomber with one nuclear weapon could kill more people than all of the United States’ wars combined.

Instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to promote liberty by speaking directly to the people of Iran, who cried out from the streets for American encouragement, Obama decided their rightful representative to be a tyranny associated with Hezbollah and other Islamic jihadist terrorists, with a posture toward the United States best described as hostile.

Not only is replacing tyranny with democracy a sound strategy for protecting the United States from a terrorist regime like Iran. It’s necessary and expedient to ensure safety and happiness, as explained by Timothy Lynch and Robert Singh about President George W. Bush’s foreign policy doctrine, based on the combination of three Ts – tyranny, terrorism, and technology.

Any two can be tolerated, all three cannot.  For example, terrorists without recourse to a tyranny (a rogue state, for example) would be unlikely to secure a technology matching their aspirations. A tyrant, by the same token, may have such a WMD capacity but without terrorists to deliver it to he poses an acceptable risk – he can be deterred by conventional means. The combination of terrorists and tyrants but lacking a deadly technological capacity can be a worry for the United States but does not present an imperative for action. Afghanistan under the Taliban, for example, united tyranny with terrorists but not both with significant technology. Bin Laden had to rely on American aviation technology and training facilities to pull off his 9/11 attack … However, when all three come together, the threat crosses a threshold of acceptability. Indeed, the perception of combination demands preemption, not patience. Iraq was not invaded because of new evidence of its WMD capacity or its proliferation efforts. Saddam was toppled because of the fear that the United States had no new evidence and thus could not be sure of his relationship with terrorists or of his technological capacities.

As with Bush, the people would be safer and happier with a commander-in-chief who understands that the highest realization in warfare is to foil a potential enemy’s plans.


James Lindsay and Ray Takeyh, “After Iran Gets the Bomb,” in Foreign Affairs, March/April 2010.

Timothy J. Lynch and Robert Singh, After Bush: The Case for Continuity in American Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Barack Obama, “Remarks by President Barack Obama,” The White House, April 5, 2009.

“Sun-Tzu’s Art of War,” in The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, trans. Ralph D. Sawyer (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993).