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Smarter Than Your Average Interviewer

Sarah Palin is getting support, not just from conservative pundits, but from the Washington Post on whether there is a single “Bush Doctrine”:

Intentionally or not, the Republican vice presidential nominee was on to something. After a brief exchange, Gibson explained that he was referring to the idea — enshrined in a September 2002 White House strategy document — that the United States may act militarily to counter a perceived threat emerging in another country. But that is just one version of a purported Bush doctrine advanced over the past eight years.Peter D. Feaver, who worked on the Bush national security strategy as a staff member on the National Security Council, said he has counted as many as seven distinct Bush doctrines. They include the president’s second-term “freedom agenda”; the notion that states that harbor terrorists should be treated no differently than terrorists themselves; the willingness to use a “coalition of the willing” if the United Nations does not address threats; and the one Gibson was talking about — the doctrine of preemptive war.”If you were given a quiz, you might guess that one, because it’s one that many people associate with the Bush doctrine,” said Feaver, now a Duke University professor. “But in fact it’s not the only one.”

The Post continues:

“I actually never thought there was a Bush doctrine,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who later served as State Department counselor under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Indeed, I believe the assertion that there is such a doctrine lends greater coherence to the administration’s policies than they deserve.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, said he thought there was no “single piece of paper” that represents the Bush doctrine, but said several ideas collectively make up the doctrine, including the endorsement of preventive war and the idea that there is such a thing as a “war on terror.” “There are many elements to the Bush doctrine,” he said. In an interview, Bush press secretary Dana Perino said that “the Bush doctrine is commonly used to describe key elements of the president’s overall strategy for dealing with threats from terrorists.” She laid out three elements: “The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor terrorists. . . . We will confront grave threats before they fully materialize and will fight the terrorists abroad so we don’t have to face them at home. . . . We will counter the hateful ideology of the terrorist by promoting the hopeful alternative of human freedom.”

Well, well. And of course, ABC News itself has recognized the multiple incarnations of the phrase. So we are left to wonder whether this was just sloppy research/ignorance on Gibson’s part or a deliberate gotcha gone awry. I’ll take Napoleon’s advice (“Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.”)



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