Many Versions of 'Bush Doctrine': Palin's Confusion in Interview Understandable, Experts Say





Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seemed puzzled Thursday when ABC News anchor Charles Gibson asked her whether she agrees with the "Bush doctrine."

"In what respect, Charlie?" she replied.

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."

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    Jim Connolly - 9/14/2008

    An Palin apologist already.

    To explain away Palin's ignorance of the "Bush Doctrine" because of the perception that she was not sure distinct version is bunk.

    It was evident that she was unprepared to discuss the topic. It had nothing to do with any confusion about which distinct doctrine Gibson was refering to.

    Would Prof. Feaver allowed one of his students to get away with this kind of answer. If so, perhaps Duke is overrated.