When identifying the single most significant force defining the George W. Bush administration (in addition to the events of 9/11) many perspectives and opinions surface. One of the most significant forces has been the dramatic shift in foreign policy – the replacement of a traditional policy of containment and deterrence with a doctrine of preemptive action. The impact of this new doctrine has been dramatic; not only on the way the United States relates to the rest of the world community but the fundamental principles and beliefs guiding the country. Internal policies such as the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security are not direct results of this new policy but a reflection of a new kind of approach, based on a “duty to prevent” and a “right of self-defence”. This notion of duty needs to be examined carefully.
Recently, George W. Bush declared at West Point, "America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves - safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life."
This statement embodies noble core values and beliefs, if not universal, applicable to aspirations of many peoples of the world. The question must be raised - can a doctrine of preemptive action co-exist and support these values and beliefs? We invite you to provide your perspective on this question.
These ideals are not new to the politics of the United States - one could argue President Bush pespective is greatly influenced by what is known as "Wilsonian Idealism" (a great definition and overview of Wilson's administration are provided by Wikipedia). President Woodrow Wilson advocated for the pursuit of democracy and human rights conceptualized within the context of self-determination for the colonized peoples. The idea of universal morality was central for Wilson. In his view, the realization of individual freedom, limited government, and legitimacy of power held the key to both international peace and the emancipation of humanity from injustice. It was within this philosophical context that he advocated for the need to make the world safe for democracy. This, he argued, would promote America's long term political and economic interests.
We must not forget, values and beliefs such as freedom, safety and a better life are best when supported and shared by a society and individuals. When these value and beliefs become institutionalised and turned into doctrines, the main players are no longer individuals but government institutions. These government institutions, while having their citizens interests at hand, can in many instances compromise the application of these core values and beliefs.
In short the “indoctrination of values” by any administration or government is dangerous, and represents a key element in the world of Dark Matter Politics.