What Does Bin Laden's Death Mean for the Bush Doctrine?

The death of Osama bin Laden is certainly a historic moment and we should cheer for our military and the efforts that were put in place by President George W. Bush and maintained by President Barack Obama. But there is still more work to be done, as noted by PolicyMic writer Nathan Lean. Specifically, these efforts must continue in order to limit the deadly acts of terrorism by extremists that abide by Wahhabism. Although I am not a scholar on terrorism and typically focus on economic issues, I would like to add to the debates about what the death of bin Laden means for the future of the Bush Doctrine.  

As I watched the crowds gather in New York City and D.C. on Sunday night, I felt proud to be an American and excited for the end of the hunt for bin Laden. I also felt as though our celebrating may be premature, which PolicyMic writer Chris Miles asks with some excellent questions. In addition, the goals of liberty, non-corrupt governments, and stability in the Middle East have not yet been realized, whether or not a symbol of terrorism is dead.

President Bush’s foreign policy strategy was based on achieving these goals by restricting funds to countries that aid or harbor terrorists, advancing democracy around the world, and fighting wars on a unilateral, offensive basis if it prevents atrocities on the American people, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There were certainly a number of mistakes along the way, as is the case with any government program, but the goal of reducing the risk of further attacks on America appears be a success so far. Debates are warranted about the Bush administration's actions, the negative impact of its policies on civil liberties, and the connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. No matter who wins these debates, the fact remains that we have not had another major terrorist attack in the United States since September 11, 2001.

Compared to the campaign trail, Obama certainly changed his tune about the time frame that the wars would be over, which has upset many in his own party. It appears that the information President Obama received when he got to the White House helped him to understand the importance of what the Bush administration was trying to do and the complexities of quickly ending a war. Now that bin Laden, who did not seem to have control of the Taliban anyway, has died, I hope the President will not let down our guard and take away all of the steps that have protected Americans.

With this in mind, it is important to understand how we got to this point. In the book Hatred's Kingdom, Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations, discusses the path that bin Laden took in being exiled from Saudi Arabia, his journey to Afghanistan, his use of inherited money to fund his outreach efforts to convince others to join him and become a part part of the Taliban, in his quest to promote Jihad and kill infidels, or “non-Muslims.” What history has proven is that the Bush Doctrine helped tremendously to disrupt the resources and strategies used by Al-Qaeda.

I consider myself a libertarian on many issues, but I tend to be more hawkish when it comes to national defense; protecting Americans and our interests is my priority. What I find appealing is that the actions by the Navy SEALs show that smaller, targeted strikes by the military are highly efficient in solving situations that make it less necessary for wars. Let us hope that Obama continues to provide support to the military through some of the strategies from the Bush Doctrine, and not give in to the false comfort that may come from the recent death of bin Laden.

Even with its flaws, America continues to be the only country where I would want to live. Its compassion for others has saved numerous lives across the globe and helped to bring freedom, education, and civility to many people over the years that otherwise they may have never known. In addition, the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East are perfect examples of the quest by all for the natural right to freedom. Therefore, even though the Bush Doctrine was not perfect, there are certainly a number of lessons, good and bad, that we should learn from moving forward.

Photo CreditsWikimedia Commons

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Vance Ginn

Vance Ginn, Ph.D., is an Economist in the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at vginn@texaspolicy.com. Vance has been a PolicyMic contributor since 2011 and has university teaching and public policy experience. Fun fact: Vance is a drummer and once played in a top-rated rock band in Houston, TX.

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