Usawc strategy research project

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A Global Hegemon’s Prerogative:



Lieutenant Colonel Mark A. Dungan

United States Marine Corps

Professor Leonard J. Fullenkamp

Project Advisor

This SRP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Strategic Studies Degree. The views expressed in this student academic research paper are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

U.S. Army War College

Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013

AUTHOR: Lieutenant Colonel Mark A. Dungan
FORMAT: Strategy Research Project
DATE: 07 January 2004 PAGES: 28 CLASSIFICATION: Unclassified

The United States is pursuing a policy of “anticipatory self-defense” also known as a policy of preemption to defend itself against any future attacks such as those at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, despite the objections and reservations of allies and the United Nations. “Preemptive” use of force is designed to combat imminent and emerging threats and is widely recognized in international law, specifically in Article 51 of the UN Charter. “Preemptive” has been defined to mean “marked by the seizing of the initiative: initiated by ones own self. “Preventive” use of force is normally associated with depriving another their use of power or hope of acting or succeeding. The Bush Doctrine is both preemptive and preventive. The United Nations has been trying to enforce its resolutions against Iraq for over ten years and has made little progress. The Bush Doctrine has successfully completed a regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq, via its military instrument. While the mission in Iraq is far from complete, the Bush Doctrine has made more progress in ten months than the UN has made in ten years. The capture of Saddam Hussein was possible by the action of the Bush Doctrine. Until the United Nations makes a significant reformation on how it discharges its duties especially in the Security Council with regards to emerging threats, such as Saddam Hussein, the United States should continue to support the Bush Doctrine of preemption.



A Global Hegemon’s Prerogative – THE Bush Doctrine OF PREEMPTION AND THE ROAD TO IRAQ 1











A Global Hegemon’s Prerogative – THE Bush Doctrine OF PREEMPTION AND THE ROAD TO IRAQ

We will cooperate with other nations to deny, contain, and curtail our enemies’ efforts to acquire dangerous technologies. And as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed. We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. So, we must be prepared to defeat our enemies’ plans using the best intelligence and proceeding with deliberation. History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world order we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action.1

George W. Bush

America is at war. This latest war began September 11, 2001 with terrorist’s attacks on American soil. Much like the infamous attack at Pearl Harbor, the enemy drew first blood. The United States found itself in the unfamiliar re-active mode, one in which no super power desires ever to be. In response to this attack a new Global War on Terrorism, (GWOT) was declared by the Bush administration. The United States has pursued a policy of “anticipatory self-defense,” also known as a policy of preemption to defend itself against any future attacks such as those at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, despite the objections and reservations of allies and the United Nations.

Until the United Nations significantly reforms how it discharges its duties, especially in the Security Council with regards to emerging threats, the United States should continue to support the Bush Doctrine of preemptive strike. Since the end of the Cold War, “deterrence based only on the threat of retaliation is less likely to be effective against leaders of rogue states that are more willing to take risks, gambling with the lives of their people and the wealth of their nations.”2 A new approach to counter these threats is required. That approach is a policy of “anticipatory self-defense.”

This paper will trace the evolution of and analyze the current policy of preemptive strike as articulated in the National Security Strategy, alternative policies and the expert views of others regarding both. Risks involved with United States policy objectives (ends), the concepts to achieve those objectives (ways), and resources used to support this policy (means) will be weighed and balanced. Consequences, costs and the United Nations’ response to the Bush Doctrine will be explored. Finally, recommendations to clarify and enhance the Bush Doctrine as well as changes for the United Nations Security Council will be presented.


The Bush Doctrine, which led directly to the war in Iraq, had its evolution in the administration of George H.W. Bush. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Mr. Paul Wolfowitz is said to be a key architect of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is also a key collaborator of the Bush Doctrine of preemptive strike. From 1989 to 1993, Wolfowitz served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in charge of a 700-person team that had major responsibilities for reshaping military strategy and policy at the end of the Cold War. In this capacity, Wolfowitz co-wrote with Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the 1992 draft Defense Planning Guidance that called for United States military dominance over Eurasia and “preemptive strikes” against countries suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The draft argued against containment as a relic of the Cold War. “America should talk loudly, carry a big stick, and use its military power to preempt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” 3 According to the draft document, the United States’ number one objective should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower. Another objective should be to safeguard United States’ interests and promote American values. The draft outlined several scenarios in which United States’ interests were threatened by regional conflict such as access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil. Seven case studies were focused primarily on Iraq and North Korea. There was no mention in the document of taking collective action through the United Nations. The draft also stated, “if necessary, the United States must be prepared to take unilateral action.” When the 46-page classified document was leaked to the press, negative public reaction caused the White House to order then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to rewrite it. 4 The rewrite specifically eliminated any mention of preemption or unilateral action because both were considered un-thinkable in a post- Cold War era that emphasized multi-lateralism and containment. A United Nations backed coalition defeated Saddam Hussein’s attempt to take over Kuwait and containment of him would continue for the time being. A preemptive unilateral doctrine would not be publicly acceptable until after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Containment of Iraq during the Clinton administration proved inadequate and caused a group of neo-conservatives to form “The Project for a New American Century.” These “neo-conservatives” argued for a much stronger United States global leadership exercised through “military strength and moral clarity.” In an open letter to President William Clinton, the authors warned that containing Iraq was a “dangerously inadequate” policy. They wrote:

“The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” 5
The letter’s signatories included Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol, and other current members of George W. Bush’s administration, including Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton. It is speculated that President George W. Bush selected Colin Powell as Secretary of State to provide a counterweight to these hawks. The events of September 11, 2001 provided a resurgence of Wolfowitz’s recommendation of preemption. During a Pentagon briefing two days after that horrific day, Wolfowitz signaled that the United States would enlarge its campaign against terror to include Iraq. He stated: “ I think one has to say it’s not just a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing sanctuaries, removing support systems, and ending states who sponsor terrorism.” 6 The last part of the statement alarmed Secretary of State Colin Powell, who quickly responded to press questions concerning “ending states” by emphasizing “the United States is fighting against terrorism and if there are states or regimes that support terrorism, the United States hopes to persuade these states that it is in their best interest to stop doing that.” 7 He emphasized that Mr. Wolfowitz did not speak for the State Department.

On September 15, 2001, the President held a National Security Council meeting at Camp David to discuss the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Wolfowitz argued that now was the perfect time to go after state sponsored terrorism, including Iraq. Secretary Powell however, convinced the council that an international coalition would not support an attack on Iraq, but may come together for an attack against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The question of Iraq would be discussed after measuring results in Afghanistan. The United States pre-eminent security priority -- underscored repeatedly by the president -- was the war on terrorism. In contrast, over the past 20 years, American military strikes against terrorist targets had been limited and retaliatory:

  • In April 1986, the United States struck military sites in Libya in response to the bombing 10 days earlier of a Berlin discotheque frequented by United States’ troops.

  • In June 1993, in retaliation for Iraq's alleged plot to assassinate former President George Bush in April, United States forces fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Iraqi intelligence service headquarters in Baghdad.

  • In August 1998, 13 days after the bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States fired cruise missiles at training camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan suspected of making chemical weapons.

An attack on Iraq in late 2001 would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign undertaken. But the central point was that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, was certain to divert the United States for some indefinite period from the war on terrorism. As Brent Scowcroft stated in an opinion editorial, ”The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.” 8 A successful regime change in Afghanistan backed by the international community combined with apparent emerging threats of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Iraq, Iran and North Korea warranted the introduction of a new strategy. The once too-risky doctrine of preemption now seemed possible.

President George W. Bush hinted of his new doctrine in the State of the Union address in January 2002, when he labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea an "axis of evil" and warned he would not allow them to threaten the United States with weapons of mass destruction. The president articulated the doctrine for the first time June 1, 2002 in a commencement address at West Point. Vice President Dick Cheney began using its contents as a prelude to Iraq at the 103rd National VFW Convention speech at Memphis on 26 August 2002. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also gave credence to preemption when he stated: "The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system, and the demonstrated hostility of Saddam Hussein combine to produce an imperative for preemptive action."9

The written version of a preemptive strategy came to life with the publishing of The National Security Strategy (NSS) of the United States of America dated September 2002. Chapter three states: “The United States will make no concessions to terrorists demands and strike no deals with them. We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor and provide aid to them.” 10 In December 2002, the Bush administration published an additional National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction to amplify chapter five of the NSS without specifically using the preemptive verbiage. In February 2003, the Bush administration published the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. All three strategies contain the policy of preemption. The NSS states a commitment to disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by focusing on those organizations of global reach and any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism that attempts to gain or use weapons of mass destructions (WMD) or their precursors. It also states that the United States will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise the right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorist, to prevent them doing harm against the United States, its people and its country.11

Although United States policy objectives seem clear, they may be more difficult to measure, achieve, and sustain. Author Philip Zelikow argues that this new strategy redefines what national security strategy means for the United States in the 21st century. In his view, a strategy of preemption redefines the geography of national security, multilateralism, and national security threats in the dimension of time. 12 The geography of a nation’s security such as the United States includes the entire globe, not just its immediate borders. Threats are able to emerge more quickly than those of yesteryear.


Immediately, critics began to question even the legality of a preemptive doctrine. “For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before lawfully taking action to defend themselves against forces that presented an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat – most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack. “13 In the often cited Caroline incident of 1837, the British helped establish the doctrine of self defense by using a preemptive attack against a United States vessel, the Caroline, that contained arms to be provided to anti-British rebels operating in Canada. Through the course of diplomatic communications between the United States and Britain, two criteria were established for the legal use of preemptive force: necessity and proportionality. Simply stated, one would have to demonstrate the necessity to respond to an imminent threat and that response would have to be proportionate to the threat. Secretary of State Daniel Webster further defined a universally accepted definition of self-defense: “There must be a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.” 14 These were the basis of the pre-United Nations definition.

The Second World War further defined the criteria for the use of force in self-defense via the United Nations Charter. Article 51 of the charter authorizes individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurred against a member of the United Nations. This article however, is not specific with the right of “anticipatory self-defense.” Two separate groups have attempted to define article 51. These groups are, as Anthony Arend refers to them, “restrictionists” and “counter-restrictionists.” “Restrictionists” claim self-defense only when an actual attack has occurred and thus no preemptive type of action is warranted. A better name for this group might be “retaliatory.” “Counter-restrictionists” claim the broader pre-UN charter customary right of anticipatory self-defense. A United States judge on the International Court of Justice, Stephen Schwebel, tried to strengthen the “counter-restrictionist” view during his dissent in Nicaragua v. United States by arguing that Article 51 does not say “ if and only if, an armed attack occurs.”15 The International Court of Justice (ICJ) however, claimed that the issue had not been raised in this case and therefore the Court would not express any view on preemption. Such a comment by the ICJ strengthens the Bush Doctrine of preemption by allowing it to decide an interpretation that favors its desires, especially with relation to current threats. Under international law, the United States could attack Iraq only as an act of self-defense unless otherwise authorized by the Security Council.

The United States has always reserved the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to its national security. The April 1950 National Security Council document #68 (NSC-68), called for a strategy of preemption in order to deter the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States. “Though it had rejected preventive war, NSC-68 acknowledged the need to be ‘on the alert in order to strike with our full weight as soon as we are attacked, and if possible, before the Soviet blow is actually delivered.’”16 This type of strategy was appropriate for a time when the Soviet Union was the lone enemy and it alone had the capability of delivering massive numbers of nuclear weapons against key targets in the United States. The United States is however, adapting its interpretation to the new concept of imminent threat as seen in the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries.

The NSS also stated that the “greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such an attack by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.” 17

In true Clausewitzian dialect the NSS conversely states that the United States will not use force in all cases to prevent emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. The strategy seems to be stating, “do as the United States says, not as it might do.” It argues however, that in an age where the “enemies of civilization openly seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather.” 18 New threats require new strategies.


Strategy is centered on “how (ways) leadership will use the power (means or resources) available to the state to exercise control over sets of circumstances and geographic locations to achieve objectives (ends).” 19 Strategic author Gregory Foster submits that strategy should provide direction for the “coercive or persuasive use of power to achieve specified objectives.” 20 This direction is by nature proactive. Bush’s NSS follows the first premise of strategy because it is “proactive and anticipatory.” 21 Chapter three of the NSS states: “Our priority will be first to disrupt and destroy terrorists organizations of global reach and attack their leadership; command, control, and communications; material support; and finances.” 22 In order to support this doctrine the United States has pledged to build a better, more integrated intelligence system capable of providing timely, accurate information on threats, wherever they may surface. It will coordinate closely with allies to form a common assessment of the most dangerous threats and continue to transform its military forces to ensure its ability to conduct rapid and precise operations to achieve decisive results.23

President Bush has transformed American security policy by declaring a doctrine not only of preemptive (or preventive) action, but also of regime change as evidenced in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush has made it clear repeatedly that he is willing to contemplate preventive action against other nations such as Libya, North Korea and Iran.24 The Bush Doctrine of preemption is making progress as indicated by Libya’s new willingness to dismantle its WMD programs. 25


Bush’s proactive preemptive strategy that led to war in Iraq will require a lengthy campaign. As the President stated in his letter to Congress on 24 September 2001, “It is not possible to predict the scope of and duration of these deployments, and the actions necessary to counter the terrorist threats to the United States.” 26 The Department of Defense must transform to be able to respond to increased deployments that are associated with this new strategy. United States armed forces stationed in 120 countries throughout the world are forward deployed to respond to global threats to peace. This new strategy may require that some forces be re-positioned to better support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in South West Asia. The National Guard and reserves of each armed force are being called up in record numbers in order to support the strategy. United States Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker is making plans to transform the Army to support such a strategy by making it more strategically agile, much like the current smaller, expeditionary United States Marine Corps. He sees a “silver lining in the cloud” of the high demand for troops operating in Iraq and elsewhere.27 Global deployments that threaten to further strain an already over-committed force caused much discussion about restructuring or “balancing” the Army. These discussions include “United States Department of Defense (DOD) initiatives to move high-demand positions out of the Army National Guard (ARNG) and United States Army Reserve, and find more soldiers for war fighting by giving non-core military jobs to civilians.” 28 The Army extended tours for ARNG from six to twelve months and may have to re-deploy units returning from combat missions. The full range of these initiatives and the high operational tempo will have adverse effects on the force as well as their families. Thousands of artillerymen will be converted into military policemen that would provide security for static forces following combat operations. The other services are also adapting to these changes.

The Marine Corps will assume a non-traditional role of assisting with post hostilities and will replace Army units stationed in Iraq. Seven-month tours have been established for Marine units rotating into Afghanistan that normally would spend six-months in Okinawa, Japan. The United Sates Navy is changing its traditional six-month deployment cycles by adapting to a surge capability thereby providing the president with increased naval options. In March 2003, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark tasked Commander, Fleet Forces Command (CFFC), to develop a Fleet Response Concept (FRC), a change in readiness posture that would institutionalize an enhanced surge capability for the Navy. The result is a new “Fleet Response Plan” (FRP) to augment forward presence naval forces. 29 This plan was a direct result of reacting to Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing an unprecedented seven carrier strike groups and six amphibious task forces. The Air Force is adapting by establishing more priorities to strategic lift to transport the forces into and out of theaters of operation. Regardless of what transformation for the services will look like, increased intelligence will be the key to when the force responds.

Intelligence challenges are growing. Two examples of intelligence failures involving covert means toward proliferation involve Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Two years elapsed between the sale of sizeable numbers of Chinese CSS-2 missiles to Saudi Arabia and its detection by United States intelligence. Similarly, it took several years for United States intelligence to discover the transfer of uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan to North Korea, despite a dedicated focus on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. 30

High quality intelligence is required to successfully perform a preemptive strike and have the international community accept the deed. What if notional intelligence is not entirely correct or country X has distributed disinformation and the United States acts upon this incorrectly? If the United States plans a preemptive strike against country X and that country intercepts our intentions before our attack can be launched, does not country X have an inherent right to defend itself against the imminent threat from the us? Would not country X be more justified in its now preemptive attack? “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure may be as good a motto for foreign policy as it is for medicine if the diagnosis is correct in the first place.” 31 Intelligence will help make the correct diagnosis.

Critics also note that a botched attack that could blow chemicals, biological spores or radioactive material into the atmosphere would risk killing thousands of people, not only in the target nation, but also in neighboring countries. The doctrine does not propose such strikes.

Under the doctrine, nuclear first strikes would be considered weapons of last resort, especially against biological weapons that can be best destroyed by sustained exposure to the high heat of a nuclear blast. The focus of the effort is finding new ways of using conventional weapons to detect and destroy weapons arsenals, and especially the missiles used to deliver them.


At the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a $1.1 billion defense agency created in 1998 to counter the threat of weapons of mass destruction, scientists are studying how to attack and destroy hardened and deeply buried bunkers containing chemical, biological and radiological weapons with advanced conventional bombs, low-yield nuclear devices and even high-yield nuclear weapons.

Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon proliferation expert now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that to be effective, the United States would need to strike preemptively before a crisis erupts to destroy an adversary's weapons stockpile. Otherwise, the adversary could erect defenses to protect those weapons, or simply disperse them. Flournoy favors a doctrine of preemption given the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons among states supporting terrorists. "In some cases, preemptive strikes against an adversary's [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities may be the best or only option we have to avert a catastrophic attack against the United States." 32 She is not advocating a nuclear preemptive strike but rather an improved conventional strike.

In order to support a doctrine of preemption, the Pentagon is studying how to launch "no warning" raids that go far beyond quick air strikes. The key tool to execute such a mission is a new "Joint Stealth Task Force" that employs the least detectable elements of every part of the armed forces, including radar-evading aircraft, Special Operations troops and ballistic submarines being converted to carry those troops and to launch cruise missiles. Beyond changes in weapons, doctrine and organization, Rumsfeld and his top aides are trying to alter the United States military mind-set. "Preemption . . . runs completely against U.S. political and strategic culture," defense expert Frank Hoffman said in an essay published this year by the Center for Defense Information.

In the past, the United States has viewed surprise or "sneak" attacks as dishonorable, the kind of thing inflicted on the American people, not initiated by them. This view was a primary reason for President Kennedy not opting for a preemptive strike against Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. 33 Despite this view, defense scientists and war planners are working to develop new weapons and capabilities to give Bush "options different than those he may have had in the past."

Rumsfeld's Nuclear Posture Review, dated Jan 2002, stated, "new capabilities must be developed to defeat emerging threats such as hard and deeply buried targets." It also stated, "several nuclear weapons options" that could be useful in attacking such facilities include "improved earth penetrating weapons." However, senior administration officials said the tactical use of nuclear weapons is being studied, not actively contemplated. "There is no one anxious to think about the employment of tactical nuclear weapons," a senior defense official said. "That's not what we are trying to do." What the Pentagon is most focused on, the official said, is a method of "advanced conventional strike.” 34 Regardless of the tactics utilized to support this doctrine, none will be acceptable to the United Nations.


As recent as 23 September 2003, Secretary General of the U.N., Koffi Annan condemned the use of preemptive force as witnessed in Iraq. He stated that this would set a bad precedent for the future. In 1999 however, the Europeans initiating a NATO air campaign over Kosovo alongside U.S. forces without a direct and explicit mandate from the Security Council had already set the precedent. Annan emphasized that Article 33 of the UN Charter clearly stipulates that international disputes should be handled through peaceful means. Contrary in July of 2000, Annan justified the U.N.’s ”preemptive strike” against Sierra Leon’s Militia, known as the “Westside Boys”, and warned that anyone who attempted to attack peacekeepers would pay a price.35 The adoption of UN Resolution 1368 the day after the September 11 attacks (at the initiation of the French), “the Security Council’s interpretation of Article 51 officially and for the first time made the UN responsive to threats from non-state actors.” 36 Preemption and prevention have also been adopted by other countries’ national defense strategies to include the French. In France’s new six-year defense bill, adopted in November 2002, France lists its four foundations as “deterrence (in its traditional mode directed toward other states), prevention, force projection, and protection.” 37 The concept of preemption as related to “imminent threat” is part of a declared French strategy. The French defense bill further states that: “preemptive action is not out of the question where explicit and confirmed threats have been recognized.” 38

When the U.N. was personally attacked at its headquarters in Baghdad, killing U.N. special envoy Sergio Demillo, the UN observed the problem through a different lens. Perhaps it has taken the death of one of their own staffers for the U.N. to admit concern for reform, but as former American Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleberger stated in response to the chances of the required changes, “I stand a better chance of eating an ice cream cone in hell.”39 The U.N has truly come to a fork in the road and must decide which route it will take in order to bring about the changes, which will make it the collective body of security, as it was designed to be. The United Nations Security Council has remained unchanged since its inception. Discussions about changing the U.N. will probably end up like the old saying, “when all is said and done, more will be said than done.”


G. John Ikenberry argues in his article entitled “America’s Imperial Ambition” that Bush’s preemptive strike doctrine forms a “neoimperial vision in which the United States arrogates itself the global role of setting standards, determining threats, and using force.”40 He claims these radical ideas could change the world’s order in a drastic way that even the end of the Cold War did not. He does not see much success in the doctrine and believes it will leave America in a more hostile and divided world. “It may have been necessary because of the new ‘apocalyptic’ character of contemporary terrorist threats and America’s unprecedented global dominance. America however, has been the dominant power since the end of the Cold War. There will be consequences of unraveling the relationships that the United States has had in place since the end of World War I.” 41 Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shares Ikenberry’s views as expressed in her Foreign Affairs article entitled “Bridges, Bombs, or Bluster.”42 European nations, many which are longtime allies of the US, consider preemption “as a sign of a permanent break by the United States from the international system…[and as] the assertion of supremacy unburdened by international laws or institutions.” 43

The United States and other major countries, especially those on the UN Security Council, need to pursue a consensus on terrorist’s threats, weapons of mass destruction, the use of force, and the global rules of the war on terrorism. This new Bush strategy is not only politically unsustainable but also diplomatically harmful, moving as it does in the opposite direction the original United Nations Charter had intended for world order. 44 One could easily argue however, the Bush doctrine as antagonistic as it may seem, caused the U.N. Security Council to finally take action and produced more aggressive inspections in Iraq. Success in Afghanistan may have caused the international community to take notice. Even French President Jacques Chirac acknowledged that troop deployments by the United States to the theater had pressured Saddam into cooperating more with the U.N. inspectors.

There are also imperial dangers associated with the Bush Doctrine. This country’s past successes have resulted from grand alliances such as WW II and multinational frameworks with its allies as during the first Gulf War. One should question the sustainability of this new approach because of the inherent costs if continued for a long time. What effects will it have in the end for nonproliferation? By elevating the threat of weapons of mass destruction to the top of the list, the preemptive doctrine could be placing more emphasis on enforcing nonproliferation commitments, but little investment has been made in monitoring or fostering those types of commitments.45

This doctrine also lends itself to second and third order events. These events are that once the United States takes this course, others will follow. Israel conducted a preemptive strike on the Iraqi Osirak reactor in 1981 and as recently as October 2003 it conducted a preemptive strike against Hamas terrorists’ training camps in Syria. The United States may support such attacks by its allies, would it also condone such attacks by Pakistan against India, China against Taiwan, or North Korea against South Korea? Such a strategy may even accelerate rogue states in their pursuit of WMDs. It is one thing to defeat the threat with a preemptive attack, but another to win the peace and rebuild the vanquished foe as the United States is witnessing in Iraq today. Rebuilding Iraq may take years and incur a very high cost. If this country elects to go alone, as it did in Iraq, it alone will have to bear the costs. A preemptive doctrine requires both a strong economy and a willing congress. This doctrine caused the President to ask Congress for a one-year increase of more than $48 billion for national defense, the largest since Ronald Reagan lived in the White House.

Operation Enduring Freedom has already incurred over $30 billion in costs and Operation Iraqi Freedom is costing the tax-payers over a billion dollars per day. The $ 86- billion dollar loan to help rebuild Iraq may only be the tip of the iceberg. Today the United States has only about 4% of the world’s population but produces approximately 27% of global output. China and Japan produce only half the amount with four times the population between them. 46 A large global output enables the United States to choose any expensive type of foreign policy as an affordable luxury. An August 2003 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment projected a $480-billion deficit for fiscal year 2004 and a cumulative deficit for 2004-13 of $1.4 trillion. 47 Despite these figures being estimates, they are however predictive of what could lie ahead for a federal fiscal crisis. These figures do not include United States military costs in Iraq beyond fiscal year 2004 or possible costs of a more active United States military responding to obligations worldwide. The Congress however, will make the ultimate decision as to whether the United States can afford this luxury.


Despite the enormous amount of controversy caused by the Bush doctrine and its associated disagreements among allies, there is the potential for agreement if it is marketed properly. To gain a consensus among allied countries in Europe and Asia this doctrine needs to meet several conditions. First, the president’s public statements need to clarify the definition and scope of preemption – linking it to and defining the terms of imminent threat in light of the September 11 attacks. Second, preemption and prevention should be managed as tools that can be assembled and wielded multilaterally as seen with the drafting and adoption of UN Resolution 1441. Finally, the United States must work diplomatically with its allies on all issues involving preemption or prevention. Preemption should be considered “not only in terms of military strikes but also in the softer fields of shaper intelligence work; diplomatic attention; and judicious applications of economic assistance, technical advice, and military/police support.” 48 If the United States and its allies can accomplish these tasks, then alliances will be preserved and enhanced rather than weakened and discarded.

In conclusion, despite critics, costs, and consequences, the United States should continue with a preemptive strategy to address emerging threats to national security and interests, if used sparingly and selectively. Unlike criminal law where a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, one that uses preemptive strike is guilty until proven innocent. The United States will have to produce the cocked weapons for the whole world to observe before they become smoking guns. Condeleeza Rice emphasized in her Wriston Lecture the criteria for using preemptive strike. She stated preemption would only apply to a very small number of cases and that all other means to include diplomacy would be first used. “The threat must be very grave. And the risks of waiting must far outweigh the risks of action.” 49 Only with an increased intelligence network, whether unilaterally or collectively, can one truly weigh the risks of action or inaction. This doctrine, however, could be the catalyst for much needed change of the United Nations’ charter. The United States and other major states, at least those on the UN Security Council, need a consensus on terrorist’s threats, weapons of mass destruction, the use of force, and the global rules of the war on terrorism. This country should take the lead in proposing “an enlargement of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council so that it represents the current world population and can address these issues.” 50 To help convince the world that it is serious about helping the UN reform, the United States could lead the way by proposing to give up its veto and have the all other permanent members follow suit. With that accomplished the Security Council could then use a simple majority vote when confronted with the decision to use force. To strengthen the proposal, the United States would commit to use force only with the approval of the council, except where its national security was directly threatened. Author Michael Ignatieff suggests five clear cases for when the United Nations could authorize a state to intervene as follows: (1) genocide, (2) an over thrown democracy calls for help, (3), a state violates the nonproliferation protocols regarding the acquisition of NBC weapons, (4) states fail to stop terrorists from launching attacks on other states, and (5) when states are a victims of aggression and call for help.

Unless the United Nations makes the aforementioned changes, the Bush administration will have every reason for exercising its global hegemonic prerogative of a preemptive doctrine. Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” 51 The Bush Doctrine of preemption does something about the evil people of the world.


Ackerman, Bruce. "But What's the Legal Case for Preemption?" August 20, 2002. Available from . Internet. Accessed 29 Dec 2003.

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1 George Bush, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Sept 2002. 15.

2 Ibid

3, The Evolution of the Bush Doctrine. 8. Accessed 26 Oct 2003.

4 Ibid

5 Ibid

6 Ibid

7 Ibid

8 Brent Scowcroft, The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2002.

9 Richard Cheney, 103rd VFW National Convention Speech, 26 August 2002.

10 Ibid, 5.

11 Ibid. 6.

12 Philip, Zelikow. The Transformation of National Security.National Interest, Spring 2003, No.71, 19.

13 Anthony C.Arend, International Law and the Preemptive Use of Military Force, Washington Quarterly, Spring 2003, Vol. 26, no. 2, pp.89-104

14 John Bassett Moore, A Digest of International Law, Vol. II (1906, p 412 (letter from Secretary of State Daniel Webster to Lord Ashburton, dated August 6, 1842).

15 Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v US), Merits, International Court of Justice (judgment of June 27, 1986), (dissent of Judge Schwebel)

16 George Herken, Counsels of War, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1985),96

17 Ibid, 15.

18 Ibid, 15.

19 H. Richard Yarger, Art Lykke and the Army War College Strategy Model. AWC Course Three material, AY 2004.

20 Gregory D. Foster, “A Conceptual Foundation for a Theory of Strategy,” The Washington Qarterly (Winter, 1990): 43.

21 Ibid, 55.

22 NSS, 5.

23 Ibid, 16.

24 George Bush, State of the Union Address, Jan 2002.

25 Daniel Williams, “Weapons Inspectors Visit Libyan Sites,” Washington Post, 29 Dec 03, pg 13.

26 George Bush, Letter from the President to the Congress, 24 September, 2001.

27 Kim Berger, “Gen Peter Schoomaker – Chief of Staff of the US Army,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, October 1, 2003.

28 Ibid

29 Robert Natter, “Creating a Surge Ready Force”, Naval Institute Proceedings, September 2003, 56.

30 Francois Heisbourg, “A Work in Progress: The Bush Doctrine and Its Consequences,” The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2003, 86.

31 Freedman, 113.

32 Ricks, Thomas E and Loeb, Vernon, Bush’s Preemptive Strike Doctrine, Washington Post, June 10, 2002, Pg A01.

33 Evan Thomas, “Bobby at the Brink.” Newsweek, 14 August 2000, 49.

34 National Public Radio program dated 3 Oct 2003.

35 Agence France Presse release of 25 July 2000.

36 Heisbourg, 81. The French Strategy was published in September 2002 and is available on the French Defense Ministry’s Web site(

37 Ibid, 83.

38 Ibid, 83.

39 CNN interview of 23 September 2003 concerning President Bush’s speech to the United Nations.

40 Ikenberry, G. John, Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct 2002, 47.

41 Ibid.

42 Albright, Madeleine K., Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct 2003.

43 Tomas Valasek, “The U.S. National Security Strategy: A View from Europe,” Center for Defense Information, Accessed 9 Oct, 2003.

44 Ibid, 49.

45 Ibid, 49.

46 World Bank figures cited in Gerald Baker, “Liberty’s Triumph,” The Financial Times, 23 December 1999.

47 The Budget and Economic Outlook: Update August 2003 (Washington, D C: Congressional Budget Office, August 2003.

48 Lawrence Freedman, “Prevention, Not Preemption,” The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2003, 114.

49 Zelikow, 27.

50 Michael Ignatieff, “Why Are We In Iraq? (And Liberia? And Afghanistan?), New York Times Magazine, 7 September 2003, 71.

51 Albert Einstein, quoted in National War College Student Task Force onCombating Terrorism, Combating Terrorism in a Globalized World, Washington, DC, 2002, p. vii.

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