Doctrine, Doctrinaire, or Indoctrinating?: William

Sunday, October 20, 2002
Posted in category Uncategorized

Doctrine, Doctrinaire, or Indoctrinating?: William Safire has an interesting column in today’s New York Times Magazine. In writing about the “Bush Doctrine”, he traces back how it was that the Monroe Doctrine became known as such. To summarize Safire, James Monroe warned European heads of State – in 1823 – that any aggressive expansion in the direction of our hemisphere would provoke an aggressive self-defense stance on the part of the U.S. No one noted Monroe’s canon to be “doctrine” until 1848 – during the Polk administration – when a congressman from South Carolina (Isaac E. Holmes) accused Polk of speaking of a doctrine similar to that of Monroe’s.

Then came the Truman Doctrine and the Eisenhower Doctrine, both relating to the advancement of U.S. “democracy” in foreign territories in the name of justice for all, of course. And then came Nixon spinning foreign policyspeak in Guam, in 1969, where he gently tried to convey that the U.S. would continue with more Vietnams, but under the condition that our allies assume a larger role for responsibility and accountability. It was an attempt to partially placate the anti-war hordes that were making noise against Imperialism. Safire tells it that Nixon was saddled with his foreign policy dogma being called the “Guam Doctrine” until Safire – as Nixon’s speechwriter – specifically used the term “Nixon Doctrine”. “Guam Doctrine”! – is there no respect?

And in September of 2001, in one of his “war on terror” talks, Bush actually referred to his warmongering foreign policy as a “doctrine” – possibly so as to get more immediate respect than Nixon did. Now, Condoleezza Rice, Ari Fleischer, and Bush all refer to Bush’s bloated foreign policyspeak as “doctrine.”

Isn’t propping up Bush as some great Head of State a little like propping up Gomer Pyle as the next Patton?

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