The Herod Doctrine

You remember how King Herod of Judea dealt with a suspected threat to his rule, don’t you?

According to Matthew, three Magi – Persian priests – showed up in Jerusalem, and told Herod they had seen a “sign in the heavens” signifying the birth in Bethlehem of a child destined to become “King of the Jews.”

Imagine how happy Herod was to hear this. So happy, he encouraged the Magi to go find this child, and report back to him the child’s identity and location so Herod could go “worship him.”

Well, the Magi found Jesus, worshipped him, presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and then returned to Iran without providing Herod their “intelligence.” We don’t call the Magi “The Three Wise Men” for nothing.

According to Matthew, Herod realized a few months later that the Magi must have divined his evil intentions. So to remove the potential threat to his rule, he ordered the assassination of all boys in Bethlehem up to two years of age. But by then, Joseph and his family had already fled to Egypt – tipped off by the Magi, an “angel,” or both.

What has the Herod Doctrine – the preemptive assassination of everyone who might conceivably be a threat – got to do with the price of oil?

Well, on September 22, 2002, George W. Bush released some unclassified details of his administration’s brand new National Security Strategy – which codifies the Bush Doctrine.

The NSS envisions the establishment – through employment of overwhelming military and economic power – of an American hegemony

Henceforth, America will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged, even – for example – by China in the Straits of Taiwan.

Henceforth, when the president “determines” – as he subsequently did in Iraq – that America’s vital interests are at stake, he will act – unilaterally, if necessary.

Henceforth, America will rely on preemption to deal with rogue states and terrorists suspected of possessing – or seeking to possess – “weapons of mass destruction.”

Furthermore, America will exploit its hegemony to establish “free and open societies” – whether they want them or not.

Bush’s National Security Strategy owes much to the Defense Guidance prepared a decade earlier by Paul Wolfowitz – then Undersecretary of Defense for Policy – for Dick Cheney – then Secretary of Defense.

Defense Guidance “informs” the Pentagon’s planning, programming and budgeting process. The ultimate objective of the process is to provide the operational commanders-in-chief the best attainable mix of forces-equipment-support to meet perceived threats to our national security.

Defense Guidance is supposed to be “informed” by National Security Strategies and National Security Decision Directives – not the other way around. In 1992, Undersecretary Wolfowitz – a neo-crazy if ever there was one – attempted to have it the other way around.

Wolfowitz’s 1992 Defense Guidance states,

“The number one objective of U.S. post-Cold War political and military strategy should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower.

“Another major U.S. objective should be to safeguard U.S. interests and promote American values.

“If necessary, the United States must be prepared to take unilateral action.”

It also provided several scenarios – the primary ones involving Iraq and North Korea – in which U.S. interests could be threatened by regional conflict. The “guidance” was for the military departments, defense agencies and military commanders to be ready to meet those threats.

Of course, Bush (Elder) was voted out of office in 1992, and with him went Cheney, Wolfowitz and their cart-before-the-horse Defense Guidance.

But the neocrazies didn’t give up. Here are excerpts from a letter they sent President Clinton in 1998:

“The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction.

“In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.

“That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

“We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power.”

They weren’t able to convince Clinton that killing Saddam Hussein ought to be the principal objective of American foreign policy.

However, the neocrazies were able to “hijack” – on September 12, 2001 – Bush’s War on Terror to justify invasions of Iraq and other countries considered to be threats to the modern-day Kingdom of Judea. According to Undersecretary John Bolton, Persia is next.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.