Document Type


Publication Date



The war on terrorism has dramatically impacted the direction of U.S. foreign policy, as well as the strategic and tactical operations for securing its objectives. Three questions central to U.S. foreign relations are whether these interests are consistent with international law; whether the United States seeks to modify international law to secure its interests; or whether foreign policy makers see the need to significantly change international legal standards. The aftermath of the of the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States triggered an intuitive reaction that the normal rules of restraint embodied in international law might no longer be relevant to the safety and vital security interests of the United States. In short, the attacks of September 11 changed the international law landscape in such a way as to make credible the claim that many of the rules and institutions of international security are now obsolete. Some in the Bush administration saw a way to co-opt international collective security institutions to render them so weak that their prescriptive and operational force would simply become irrelevant.

This article seeks to advance the discussion of national security in general, with specific regard to American foreign policy as outlined by President George W. Bush. In particular, we undertake a detailed examination of historically significant national security doctrines as well as the legal basis underlying the 2003 American attack on Iraq in order to explore the Bush administration's international policy determinations. Part I of this article discusses the character of national security in the United States following its war on terror in Afghanistan. Part II introduces threshold considerations as to how national security doctrines are created. Part III then discusses the national security doctrines of a series of developing nations, or "lesser powers." Part IV proceeds to discuss the national security doctrines of a series of developed nations, or the "hegemons." Part V explores President George W. Bush's new national security doctrine for the United States. Part VI scrutinizes the new Bush national security doctrine by assessing the legal basis of the 2003 Iraq war, followed by Part VII, which offers possible strategic justifications. In conclusion, Part VIII suggests some implications of the Iraq war for the United States from a strategic standpoint.