Bush Doctrine of Preemption – United Flight 93

The Bush Doctrine of Preemption did not originate with President George Bush in September 2002. It began a year earlier on a September morning aboard United Airlines Flight 93 bound for San Francisco. It began when Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, Thomas Burnett, Mark Bingham, Andrew Garcia, flight attendants Cee Cee Lyles and Sandra Bradshaw, and the other 30 passengers made the decision not to sit meekly by like lambs in a slaughterhouse, but to act preemptively.

On September 20, 2002, President George Bush formally announced out his Doctrine of Preemption in a document titled “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” Among other policies, the doctrine advocated the use of military preemption and unilateralism in not only an imminent attack, but also a preventive war or action in which force may be used without evidence to ensure a serious threat does not grow.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, at 8:45 A.M., American Airlines Flight 11 plowed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Eighteen minutes later, at 9:03 A.M., United Airlines Flight 175 screamed into the South Tower.

Aboard Flight 93, the passengers learned of the World Trade Center atrocities from cell phone calls from wives, husbands, and loved ones. Told by Ziad Samir Jarrah, the pilot of the hijacked airliner, the aircraft was headed back to the airport and that they should remain seated and quiet, the passengers thought otherwise. It is doubtful they knew the aircraft was headed towards Washington D.C. and the White House or the Capital, but I suspect they knew it was not going to be Newark International.

Preemption is defined as the anticipatory use of force in the face of an imminent attack. The passengers of Flight 93 believed the Boeing 757 was going to be used in an imminent attack on the United States and together they chose to attack first.

Ninety minutes after Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda launched their murderous attack that took the lives of some 3,000 people, the brave souls of Flight 93, unilaterally and militarily, charged the flight deck and fought with their lives in a preemptive attack against their al-Qaeda hijackers.

Preemption was defined when Todd Beamer stood up and said, “Let’s roll.”

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