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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Analysis: US plans for first strikes
US jet at take-off
Could pre-emptive strikes ensure America's safety?

The Bush administration is to reveal more details of its new doctrine of waging pre-emptive war.

Donald Rumsfeld
The hawks in Bush's camp have gained strength since 11 September
The doctrine advocates striking first against an emerging threat before the US itself is actually attacked.

A policy paper sets out the new thinking that was first announced by US President George W Bush during his speech at the US Military Academy at West Point in June this year.

The new document could have its first practical test if the United States goes to war against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

Dynamics shift

One of the most significant consequences of the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington was that internal dynamics within the Bush administration changed.

US army soldiers
US forces must be strong enough to outstrip hostile rivals, the report says

The more hawkish military camp, personified by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was significantly strengthened.

And this new National Security Strategy document very much reflects their view of the world.

The new strategy largely turns its back on notions such as containment and deterrence, the tools that served America well during the Cold War years.

It says that the greatest danger facing the US comes from the linkage between radicalism and technology: the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of those with implacable hostility towards the US.

Thus, the Iraq crisis is clearly the first test case of this new doctrine.

Public diplomacy

But the strategy has much wider implications.

It speaks of maintaining strong enough forces to dissuade any potential rival from trying to outstrip the US in terms of military capability.

But the document also draws a very broad definition of national security, a view that bears the hallmark of Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser.

She has championed a definition of security that looks at the wider battle of values, that stresses the importance of public diplomacy, foreign aid and so on, in helping to shape a world in America's image.

The document also says that it wants to use US power to promote free and open societies rather than seeking unilateral US advantage.

But that is not the way this new strategy may be seen in many parts of the world.


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20 Sep 02 | Americas
19 Sep 02 | Americas
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