U.S. National Security Strategy - President George W. Bush Holds Course

Posted in Other | 28-Mar-06 | Author: Dieter Farwick

President George W. Bush gestures as he addresses his remarks on the global war on terror, Wednesday, March 22, 2006…
President George W. Bush gestures as he addresses his remarks on the global war on terror, Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, W. Va.
It comes as no surprise that “The National Security Strategy (NSS)” of March 2006 is in its security policy philosophy almost identical with the “Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)” of February 2006.

In my view, the 49-page NSS 2006 should have been published prior to QDR 2006. In the hierarchy of both documents the presidential paper should come first. QDR 2006 should follow up based upon the presidential guidelines.

Anyhow, both documents present the official US national security strategy and the future US force structure. Both are documents of transparency and accountability. NSS 2006 will provoke similar critique as its predecessor in 2002 inside and outside the States.

People who were and are opposed to US commitment in Afghanistan and – even more – in Iraq will not agree with NSS 2006. For them, it is filled with too much old thinking. To be fair, it is not that easy to write such a strategy paper in a period of running military conflicts and of permanent political “transformation” at home and abroad. In Germany, we have been waiting for a “White Paper” since 1994.

The messages sent might not be popular but they are clear. Through studying both of these documents, people and governments around the globe learn what they can expect from US security strategy – be it as friend and ally or as adversary.

NSS 2006 is more than a clone of NSS 2002. It reflects the major events and developments that have happened since September 2002. The hard lessons learned have made an impact on NSS 2006.

"America is at war"

That’s the first sentence in the president’s letter of presentation. It was also one of the first announcements made by President George W. Bush, US Commander-in-Chief, immediately after the murderous attacks on September 11, 2001.

This assessment marks the fundamental difference between the US government's perception and – for example – the European perception. If a country is at war, the political priorities and procedures have to be changed. Looking at the conflict in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq as well as at terrorists’ attacks around the globe, the perception of “being at war” is sound.

Many European countries do not feel at war in spite of the terrorist attacks on the Isle of Djerba, in Madrid and London, because they do not want to be at war. They try to run the business as usual. They turn a blind eye to the threat hoping it will fade away.

This was already my first impression coming home after having witnessed the attacks and the American people’s reaction in Washington D.C. in September 2001.

“America now faces a choice between the path of fear and the path of confidence.” For the president the choice was clear:

“This administration has chosen the path of confidence. We choose leadership over isolation, and the pursuit of free and fair trade and open markets over protectionism. We choose to deal with challenges now rather than leaving them for future generations. We fight our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country. We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it; to influence events for the better instead of being at their mercy.”

How to achieve this goal and objective?

We must maintain a military power without peer – yet our strength is not founded on force of arms alone. It also rests on economic prosperity and a vibrant democracy. And it rests on strong alliances, friendships, and international institutions, which enable us to promote freedom, prosperity, and peace in common purpose with others.”

In my view, this is the farewell to unilateralism – if it is avoidable. It is certainly one major lesson learned from the war in Iraq - that even a superpower like the United States is not capable of coping with all challenges ahead of us. The second lesson learned in this context is the orchestrating of elements of soft and hard power.

For the president, the fight against terror and tyranny and the promotion of democracy are the two pillars of US security strategy.

“Effective multinational efforts are essential to solve these problems.”

The philosophy reads: Multilateral if possible unilateral if necessary. This is sound advice for a world power with global interests and global responsibilities.

The focus of the public's attention – especially in Europe - on the enduring conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel/Palestine led to the neglect of US politics that President Bush describes as

“We have cultivated stable and cooperative relations with all the major powers of the world.”

I will elaborate on this important aspect later in more detail. The consent of the five UN Security Council members concerning Iran might be a first – hopefully lasting – success of this prudent policy.

Dieter Farwick, WSN Global-Editor-in-chief, touring Asia: Taj Mahal - one of the most popular sites in Asia: "The Unites States…
Dieter Farwick, WSN Global-Editor-in-chief, touring Asia: Taj Mahal - one of the most popular sites in Asia: "The Unites States is a Pacific nation, with extensive interests Throughout East and Southeast Asia".
Overview of America’s National Security Strategy

“It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world…. Achieving this goal is the work of generations.”

The review defines 9 major tasks to achieve this goal:

  • “Champion aspirations for human dignity;
  • Strengthen the alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends;
  • Work with others to defuse regional conflicts;
  • Prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends with weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
  • Ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;
  • Expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy;
  • Develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power;
  • Transform America’s national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century; and
  • Engage the opportunities and confront the challenges of globalization.”

It is noteworthy that US security strategy puts the risks and challenges as well as the chances and opportunities – including those of globalization - on the radar screen.

All 9 chapters follow the same structure: Summary of the National Security Strategy 2002, successes and challenges since 2002 and the way ahead. The balance of the years since 2002 is ambiguous. There are ups and downs.

The commitment in Afghanistan is in my view not as positive as indicated in the report. The situation in Afghanistan is far from irreversible. Spring 2006 will show whether or not the Taliban and al Qaeda have reconstituted sufficiently to wage new attacks beyond the South Eastern region. NATO and US forces will face tough times. The political situation beyond Kabul is still fragile with warlords still very powerful in the region and the booming drug business. I see chances to stabilize Afghanistan in the mid- and long-term, but this requires the enduring involvement of the donor states.

In Iraq, the situation is worse. We might be at the brink of a civil war. The military operations of the “Coalition of the Willing” went well - different from the post-conflict operations.

There is another very important lesson learned: Post-conflict operations and efforts of nation building are as difficult and important as the “hot war.” They must be prepared and started even prior to the war.

One important aspect: There is no civilian equivalent to well-trained and battle-hardened HQ and soldiers. It is therefore a logical consequence to raise the idea of a civilian reserve corps and to improve US intra-agency and in the US inter-agency cooperation and efficiency for operations abroad and at home.

The chances to bring Iraq to a good end would be higher if – for example – NATO and the EU would recognize that a failure in Iraq is not an American disaster but a disaster for the free world. A failure in Iraq would change the political landscape in the Broader Middle East - from Afghanistan to Lebanon and Israel/Palestine. Iran would be the great winner and would fill the political vacuum in the region.

Therefore, the outcome of the conflict with Iran is decisive for future security and stability. I hope that the five veto powers in the UN Security Council will hold together and sing from the same sheet of paper.

In the shadow of the conflicts in Afghanistan and in Iraq and the war on terror, US foreign policy and US diplomacy have developed a new security posture in the Asia-Pacific region, where future world politics will be decided. It is certainly not premature to announce an “Asia-Pacific century.”

"This administration has chosen the path of confidence"
"This administration has chosen the path of confidence"
China is a good example for US Realpolitik: “China will become a global player.” As global player, China might become a partner – especially in the fields of economics, finance and energy-related areas. Looking at the increased military efforts “in a non-transparent way” and at the question of Taiwan, China still has the potential to act as a strategic competitor and rival.

But the report emphasizes: “Mutual interests can guide our cooperation on issues such as terrorism, proliferation and energy security. We will work to increase our cooperation to combat disease pandemics and reverse environmental degradation.”

This evaluation of China’s future role is certainly more open-minded than in the past. Irrespective of this development, US foreign policy and diplomacy have increased the efforts to strengthen old and forge new partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region where the US wants to be seen as an “indispensable Asia - Pacific power.” Alliances and partnerships with Indonesia; Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand but also with India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia underpin the strong position of the US in the Asia-Pacific region.

The recent visit of President Bush to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan underlines US interest in the region.

The new “strategic partnership” with India – the world’s largest democracy and emerging global player – cannot be underestimated.

These efforts have been completed with enhanced relations with the Gulf states shifting the emphasis from stability at almost any price to democracy. For too long, too many nations of the Middle East have suffered from a freedom deficit…These maladies were all cloaked by an illusion of stability.” Therefore, we have to accept the outcome of free and fair elections – see the victory of Hamas. As a consequence, the relations to Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been cooled down.

From my NATO-infected point of view I am glad to read: “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains a vital pillar of US foreign policy.” NATO’s successful commitment in Afghanistan in close cooperation with the US forces and the development of the “NATO Response Force” are litmus tests for a new era of NATO.

The relations with Russia are businesslike: “The United States seeks to work closely with Russia on strategic issues of common interest” (war on terror and energy supply) “and to manage issues on which we have different interests”(human rights and free media).

Russia, the former antagonist known as the Soviet Union has become a partner.


In sum: The US seems to be well prepared to play a vital role in the “Asia-Pacific century” as an integral part of the region as well as in the Broader Middle East. The major stumbling blocks for US security strategy are the conflict in Iraq –“a long war” - and the war on terror “While the War on Terror is a battle of ideas, it is not a battle of religions.” Terrorist attacks under the label ”Islam” is seen as a perversion of a proud religion.”

The US government is right to say that a premature troop withdrawal from Iraq would throw the whole region into chaos. President Bush just recently emphasized that the complete withdrawal will be the task of his successors. This does not exclude the withdrawal of thousands of soldiers earlier enabled by further improvement of the indigenous military and police force.

If and when Iraqi governments take over full responsibility of a robust democracy, the war on terror will not be over, but the chances are much better to contain terrorism.

  • To win the battle for hearts and minds is a worldwide mission for US politics and diplomacy that asks for an efficient orchestrating of soft and hard power.

  • The US has to find a new balance between deterrence and denial combined with attractive incentives for peaceful cooperation.

The military force – including the options of preemptive strikes and the option to use nuclear forces – will not be the only source of US power. “Safe, credible, and reliable forces continue to play a critical role.” This power can be enhanced by multilateral political approaches to cope with future challenges.

The US seems to be on a good way to a multipolar world that will become inevitable in the decades ahead.

In politico-military operations at home - disaster relief - and abroad, qualifications and readiness of well-trained US HQs and troops must be met by a civilian equivalent. Civilian representatives have to be an integral part of military planning from the beginning.