(Article continues below)
While Gibson did not get the Bush Doctrine wholly correct, he was at least on the right track. In fact, the Bush Doctrine is predicated on “preventive war” not “preemptive war” — a sharp distinction in which the former justifies launching war in an attempt to “prevent” a threat from emerging (i.e. the Iraq war), while in the latter case, the threat has already materialized.
“Preemptive war” is, as Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) once observed, something “the global community is generally tolerant of,” while “preventive attacks” — a policy that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has not rejected — “have generally been condemned.”
Indeed, as Matt Yglesias notes, Bush and McCain agree that the U.S. has “the right to use military force unilaterally even where there isn’t an imminent threat” and that “Palin’s view is sensible, so it would be interesting to learn her opinion of her running mate’s much less sensible view.”
UPDATE: The Jed Report posted this video of John McCain explaining the Bush Doctrine: