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A nation must think before it acts.
The George W. Bush administration embraced a particularly aggressive counter-terrorist and counter-proliferation strategy after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The “Bush Doctrine,” as it became known, reflects a “primacist” approach to grand strategy that aims not only to eliminate global terrorist networks and cowl rogue state proliferators, but also to dissuade potential near-peer competitors from challenging the American-centred international system. Critics expect that this ambitious approach to strategic affairs has become unsustainable in the face of the growing quagmire in Iraq. But “security addiction” in the post-9/11 environment has instead created conditions for a bipartisan consensus on the overall direction, if not the particular modalities, of “primacist” grand strategies. Despite the unpopularity of the Bush administration and significant American commitments to Afghanistan and Iraq, it is highly unlikely that President Barack Obama will heed calls for military retrenchment or strategic restraint.