Magazine article Insight on the News

Bush Doctrine on Free-World Safety: The New National Security Strategy Abandons the Relativism of Old in Favor of What Condoleezza Rice Has Called `Distinctly American Internationalism.' (Nation: National Security)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Bush Doctrine on Free-World Safety: The New National Security Strategy Abandons the Relativism of Old in Favor of What Condoleezza Rice Has Called `Distinctly American Internationalism.' (Nation: National Security)

Article excerpt

Here at last is a new White House document that doesn't mince words: friends and enemies; good and evil; right and wrong. It's all in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America--the essence of what is becoming the Bush Doctrine--and it's turning the establishment diplomatic and international-security communities on their heads.

In his first formal strategic paper on how he intends to secure the country's security, President George W. Bush declares, like a modern Abraham Lincoln or an Old Testament prophet, that it is this nation's responsibility to "rid the world of evil."

The evils he wants to destroy are terrorism, governments that sponsor terrorism and rogue regimes that threaten the civilized world with weapons of mass destruction. To do so, according to the strategy, the United States must: completely rethink its entire military, foreign-policy and national-security machinery; dramatically redesign its armed forces from the ground up; slash bureaucracies; streamline intelligence collection and analysis; speed the systems needed for decisionmaking; employ new technologies; and make it possible for the United States to identify and destroy threats before they can strike the country and its interests.

The White House reasons, "America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by falling ones. We are menaced less by fleets and armies than by catastrophic technologies in the hands of the embittered few. We must defeat these threats to our nation, allies and friends."

At the same time, the president believes the United States cannot simply destroy the evildoers without helping lift up and rebuild areas of decay and strife. He sees the country shouldering an enormous international responsibility to encourage political, religious and economic freedom around the world. The theme builds on former president Ronald Reagan's crusade to defeat and dismantle the evil empire of the Soviet Union by confronting aggression and promoting freedom. The strategy is rich in Reaganesque simplicity and sincerity in both its words and its reasoning: "In pursuit of our goals, our first imperative is to clarify what we stand for: The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere."

Gone is the values-free, relativist realpolitik of the 1960s that justified coexistence and even collaboration with despots and tyrants while ushering in Strangeloveian concepts such as "balance of terror" and "mutually assured destruction." The new strategy is to "promote a balance of power that favors freedom." Little if anything in the decidedly free-trade document smacks of establishment cynicism: "Embodying lessons from our past and using the opportunity we have today, the national-security strategy of the United States must start from these core beliefs and look outward for possibilities to expand liberty."

It's an idealistic document, to be sure, but an idealism laced with hard-nosed realism about both the limits of U.S. power and the limits of working with the consent of the rest of the world. Bush has dumped the discredited notion, embraced by establishment policy wonks for generations, that the United States must wait until its people are slaughtered before striking an enemy. The Bush strategy is to defend the United States, the American people and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders.

"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 pre-emptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country." The United States will deny further foreign sponsorship, support or sanctuary to terrorists "by convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities. …

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