Unsurprisingly, Max Boot is unimpressed with the Obama administration’s National Security Strategy, which he thinks suffers from an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach“:
This is, I suppose, what happens when every branch of government gets to weigh in while such a document is being drafted. But it is possible to do something different. Love it or hate it, the Bush National Security Strategy of 2002 was a truly innovative and influential document that will be long remembered for declaring the need for preventative action against aggressors and terrorists. Eight years later, I can still recalls some of its lines: “The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology” and “America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.”
I’d quibble with Boot’s contention that the new NSS isn’t innovative — I think its tethering of American strength abroad to economic stability at home will prove to be important and consequential — but is “innovation” really what we should be looking for with this document? Perhaps the 2002 NSS’s assertion of an American right to invade countries that didn’t pose an imminent threat was “innovative,” but what it wasn’t was “good” or “smart” or “an effective way to secure and protect the United States.” It’s nice that some of its language gave Boot that special tingling feeling, but tend to think it’s more relevant that the Bushian “innovation” of preventive war resulted in one of the worst foreign policy blunders in U.S. history, one with whose consequences U.S. policy will be grappling — and for which our children will be paying — for decades to come, and thus not really worth mooning over.
As for the idea that the 2002 NSS was “influential,” given that the actual application of its ideas about preventive war has led to a pretty solid consensus that preventive wars are a horrible idea, the only way that I can think of that this is actually true is that the 2002 NSS, and the ideas that characterized it, “influenced” thousands of people to start their own blogs to write about how preventive wars are a horrible idea.