Published on Friday, September 20, 2002 in the San Francisco Chronicle
Bush's New Military Policy:
First Strikes, Unrivaled Power
U.S. won't permit another Cold War-style face-off, document says
by David E. Sanger, New York Times
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration will publish a comprehensive rationale today for shifting American military strategy toward pre-emptive action against hostile states and terrorist groups. It will also state, for the first time, that the United States will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged the way it was during the Cold War.
The document, titled "The National Security Strategy of the United States," sketches out a far more muscular and sometimes aggressive approach to national security than any since the Reagan era.
It includes the discounting of most nonproliferation treaties in favor of a doctrine of "counterproliferation," a reference to everything from missile defense to forcibly dismantling weapons or their components. It declares that the strategies of containment and deterrence -- staples of American policy since the 1940s -- are all but dead.
In the 33-page document, President Bush also seeks to answer the critics of growing American muscle-flexing by insisting that the United States will exploit its military and economic power to encourage "free and open societies, " rather than seek "unilateral advantage." The document calls this "a distinctly American internationalism."
The document, which is one that every president is required to submit to Congress, is the first comprehensive explanation of the administration's foreign policy, from defense strategy to global warming.
COLD WAR DOCTRINES DEAD
"America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones," the document states, sounding what amounts to a death knell for many of the key strategies of the Cold War.
One of the most striking elements of the new strategy outlined is its insistence "that the president has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago."
"Our forces will be strong enough," the document states, "to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." With Russia so financially hobbled that it can no longer come close to matching American military spending, the doctrine seems aimed at rising powers like China, which is expanding its conventional and nuclear forces.
Administration officials who worked on the strategy for months say it amounts to both a maturation and an explanation of Bush's vision for the exercise of American power after 20 months in office, integrating the military, economic and moral levers he holds.
Much of the document focuses on how public diplomacy, the use of foreign aid and changes in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank can be used to win what it describes as a battle of competing values and ideas -- including "a battle for the future of the Muslim world."
BUSH DEEPLY INVOLVED
The president put the final touches on the new strategy last weekend at Camp David after working on it for months with his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and with other members of the national security team.
A senior White House official said Bush had edited the document heavily "because he thought there were sections where we sounded overbearing or arrogant." But at the same time, the official said, it is important to foreclose the option that other nations could aspire to challenge the United States militarily, because "once you cut off the challenge of military competition, you open up the possibility of cooperation in a number of other areas."
However, at several points, the document states clearly that when important American interests are at stake, there will be no compromise.
The document argues that while the United States will seek allies in the battle against terrorism, "we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively." That includes "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities" not to aid terrorists, the essence of the doctrine Bush declared on the night of Sept. 11, 2001.
The new strategy departs significantly from the last one published by President Bill Clinton, at the end of 1999.
Clinton's strategy dealt at length with tactics to prevent the kind of financial meltdowns that threatened economies in Asia and Russia. The Bush strategy urges other nations to adopt Bush's own economic philosophy, starting with low marginal tax rates. While Clinton's strategy relied heavily on enforcing or amending a series of international treaties, from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to Kyoto protocols on the environment, Bush's strategy dismisses most of those efforts.
WRITTEN FOR THE 'BOYS' BACK HOME
In fact, the new document -- which Bush told his staff had to be written in plain English because "the boys in Lubbock ought to be able to read it" -- celebrates his decision last year to abandon the ABM treaty because it impeded American efforts to build a missile defense system. It recites the dangers of nonproliferation agreements that it says have failed to prevent Iran, North Korea, Iraq and other countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and says that the United States will never subject its citizens to the newly created International Criminal Court, "whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans."
The doctrine also describes at great length the administration's commitment to bolstering American foreign aid by 50 percent in the next few years in "countries whose governments rule justly, invest in their people and encourage economic freedom." It insists that the programs must have "measurable results" to assure that the money is actually going to the poor, especially for schools, health care and clean water.
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle