- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 21, 2002

President Bush announced a new national security strategy to combat terrorists and rogue nations such as Iraq yesterday, saying the United States has the right to unilaterally strike first in self-defense.
A dangerous mix of terrorists, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction have fundamentally shifted the United States' military posture from primarily defensive to pre-emptively offensive, says the 31-page "National Security Strategy of the United States of America."
It is the president's principal guidepost for using military force and appears much more hawkish than the strategy followed by President Clinton.
"The United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past," the new policy states. "We cannot let our enemies strike first. We recognize that our best defense is a good offense."
The White House also says the United States will remain the world's dominant military power, using that might to fight enemies but also to foster democracy and free markets worldwide.
"Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States," the document says.
In a signed, opening message, Mr. Bush put in a pitch for his doctrine of pre-emptive strikes an option missing from Mr. Clinton's national security policy. Mr. Bush argues that pre-emptive military action whether against a rogue state or a terrorist cell will head off national catastrophes, such as the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Mr. Bush, who is contemplating ordering a military invasion to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, did not mention Iraq by name. But the president's message was clearly an argument to persuade Congress to approve his resolution to authorize force to topple Saddam, who is accused of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
"We must be prepared to defeat our enemies' plans, using the best intelligence and proceeding with deliberations," the president said. "History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action."
In a concept known as "proactive counter proliferation," the policy sets out an aggressive plan for preventing rogue states from obtaining nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
"We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends," the policy states. It says the response may involve "the use of military force" something being considered against Iraq.
"While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against terrorists to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country," the strategy says.
Not all the paper's talk was tough, however. The Bush administration will urge Muslim countries to overcome the conditions and ideologies that promote global terrorism. It says poverty does not cause people to become terrorists but does prevent the establishment of institutions, such as schools and judicial systems, that guard against terrorism taking root.


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