July 2002
Emerging Bush Doctrine -

Reshaping U.S. Strategy

>  >
>  >Summary
>  >
>  >Although the Bush administration has seemed to be without a clear
>  >strategy for fighting groups like al Qaeda, a doctrine is slowly
>  >emerging that will reshape the global U.S. strategy. The defense
>  >of the United States is Washington's top priority, with all other
>  >foreign policy interests taking a back seat. Any nation that does
>  >not act against terror groups within its borders will be in a
>  >virtual state of war with Washington.
>  >
>  >Analysis
>  >
>  >Since the fall of the Taliban last year, the United States
>  >appears to have become rudderless in its war against terrorism.
>  >Washington's strategy has consisted of chasing down rumors about
>  >the location of al Qaeda and making vague threats about Iraq and
>  >insinuations about Iran and North Korea. It looks like the United
>  >States doesn't really know what to do next. But looks can be
>  >deceiving. If you examine carefully, you can see both a doctrine
>  >and a strategy emerging.
>  >
>  >This is all framed by the Bush administration's view of the
>  >situation. From where it sits, there is every reason to believe
>  >that the United States will be attacked by al Qaeda again. Even
>  >more important, the possibility that al Qaeda or some other anti-
>  >U.S. organization has obtained weapons of mass destruction cannot
>  >be excluded. If that turns out to be true, then millions of
>  >Americans may possibly be killed in the coming months or years.
>  >
>  >The most important goal for Washington must be to make absolutely
>  >certain that no further attacks, especially nuclear, chemical or
>  >biological, can be launched on the United States. There is no
>  >other comparable interest. The Bush Doctrine is based on the
>  >notion that the defense of the homeland from attacks represents
>  >an interest so fundamental that all other foreign policy
>  >interests must be completely subordinated.
>  >
>  >We might summarize the Bush Doctrine this way: The United States
>  >faces an extraordinary danger. Washington is therefore prepared
>  >to take any action anywhere in the world to defend itself from
>  >this threat.
>  >
>  >The defense of the homeland cannot be reduced to only defeating
>  >al Qaeda. The Bush administration has studied the lessons of the
>  >Israeli wars on Black September and other Palestinian groups and
>  >has drawn this conclusion: the defeat of any single group can
>  >disrupt and delay future attacks, but it cannot by itself
>  >eliminate them. Even if the United States were to utterly destroy
>  >al Qaeda, a new group would likely emerge. Therefore, the United
>  >States has three strategic goals:
>  >
>  >1. Disrupt and defeat al Qaeda in order to buy time for a more
>  >thorough solution.
>  >2. Prevent the emergence of follow-on groups by denying them
>  >sanctuaries in states where they can organize, train and plan.
>  >3. Limit the threat posed by al Qaeda and follow-on groups by
>  >systematically eliminating weapons of mass destruction being held
>  >or developed by regimes that are favorably inclined toward them
>  >or in states where there is substantial sympathy for them.
>  >
>  >Beginning with the last goal, there are a finite number of
>  >nations that have intensive programs underway to develop weapons
>  >of mass destruction and delivery systems and that also might be
>  >prepared to aid al Qaeda. Three were named by U.S. President
>  >George W. Bush during the State of the Union: Iraq, Iran and
>  >North Korea. Another unnamed nation is Pakistan.
>  >
>  >It must be assumed by the United States that the first three of
>  >these countries are developing WMD and/or delivery systems. It
>  >cannot be ruled out that either their governments or powerful
>  >factions within their borders might be inclined to provide al
>  >Qaeda or other groups with these weapons for use against the
>  >United States.
>  >
>  >Washington requires that these and other nations that are
>  >identified demonstrably and verifiably abandon all attempts to
>  >build weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. They
>  >should also convince the United States that they will under no
>  >circumstances transfer any technology to al Qaeda or any other
>  >group that intends covert action against the United States.
>  >
>  >In the case of Iraq, for example, no assurances that might be
>  >made by Baghdad could possibly carry any weight. It would
>  >therefore follow that it is the intention of the United States to
>  >identify and directly attack any Iraqi facilities that might be
>  >developing WMD. The recent announcement that the United States
>  >reserves the right to use nuclear weapons if needed fits clearly
>  >into this strategy. If it is determined that there are facilities
>  >that cannot be destroyed by conventional means, Washington is
>  >prepared to use nuclear weapons on them.
>  >
>  >Intelligence is always imperfect. It is possible that sites will
>  >be hit that do not produce WMD. This is something the United
>  >States is prepared to accept. More serious is the possibility
>  >that all WMD sites are not identified. So in order to minimize
>  >the risk the United States intends to destroy the Iraqi regime by
>  >overthrowing its leadership through a variety of military means,
>  >obviously including air strikes and special operations.
>  >
>  >If Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is in a hardened facility, even
>  >the use of nuclear weapons is not out of the question. A
>  >secondary and highly desirable outcome will be replacing the
>  >Hussein regime with one that is prepared to both abandon the
>  >development of WMD and deny sanctuary to groups planning to
>  >attack the United States. All other considerations, both
>  >humanitarian and geopolitical, are completely secondary to the
>  >primary goal.
>  >
>  >Iran, North Korea and Pakistan are all in a different class from
>  >Iraq, but still represent fundamental threats to the United
>  >States either because their governments' actions are
>  >unpredictable or because the governments' control over WMD
>  >facilities are uncertain. Assurances from these various regimes
>  >cannot be taken at face value.
>  >
>  >Therefore Iran and North Korea have been publicly warned, and we
>  >assume that Pakistan has been privately warned, that the threat
>  >presented to the United States by the diffusion of weapons of
>  >mass destruction, delivery systems or partial technologies is
>  >intolerable. Each country is being given opportunities to
>  >convince Washington that it is either not developing such weapons
>  >or that it is prepared to put into place inspection protocols
>  >that will guarantee non-diffusion. Barring a satisfactory
>  >solution, the United States is prepared to take extreme military
>  >measures in each of these countries to guarantee the elimination
>  >of threats.
>  >
>  >Simultaneously, the United States is putting forces into place
>  >for a direct, global attack on al Qaeda. U.S. intelligence is in
>  >the process of identifying locales in which al Qaeda is
>  >operating, and to the extent possible identifying precise
>  >facilities and individuals. Under the Bush Doctrine and according
>  >to clear statements by the administration, the United States will
>  >at a suitable time attack each of these facilities regardless of
>  >where they are located.
>  >
>  >If they have the support of the host government, that will be
>  >welcomed. If the host government cannot provide support but does
>  >not hinder operations, the United States will enter that country
>  >unilaterally. If the host country is actively hostile to the
>  >entry of the United States, that country will be regarded as an
>  >enemy aiding al Qaeda and its military forces will also be
>  >subject to attack.
>  >
>  >Washington has been allied with many countries since World War
>  >II. Historical relationships are of significance only to the
>  >extent that the ally is prepared to materially aid the United
>  >States in defending its physical security. If, for example,
>  >European allies cannot countenance an attack on an Iraq, then
>  >what will they support?
>  >
>  >If even the destruction of Hussein and his weapons of mass
>  >destruction appear to be too extreme a measure, then clearly the
>  >Europeans don't understand or are indifferent to the threat to
>  >the United States. The Bush administration will question the use
>  >of an ally who opposes steps essential to the physical safety of
>  >the United States.
>  >
>  >Thus, embedded in the emerging Bush Doctrine is a fundamental
>  >redefinition of the U.S. alliance. During the Cold War, U.S.
>  >allies were judged on their willingness to stand with the United
>  >States against the Soviets. Now they are judged by their
>  >willingness stand with Washington not only against al Qaeda, but
>  >the range of threats that now physically threaten the United
>  >States.
>  >
>  >The strategy that results from this appears to be a massive
>  >onslaught on multiple levels against al Qaeda, against countries
>  >that are intentionally or unintentionally enablers of al Qaeda
>  >and, above all, against countries that might be in the process of
>  >giving al Qaeda access to weapons of mass destruction. The key to
>  >understanding this U.S. strategy is its limitlessness. Embedded
>  >in the Bush Doctrine is the operational principle that there is
>  >no measure too extreme given the threat that exists to the United
>  >States.
>  >
>  >The Bush administration thinks that extreme and limitless
>  >responses are what is needed to prevent the emergence of follow-
>  >on organizations. Building an organization like al Qaeda has
>  >taken years, a great deal of resources and above all physical
>  >sanctuary. For al Qaeda, there were several bases of operation,
>  >but Afghanistan was the most recent and best known.
>  >
>  >A certain weakness has been identified in Washington's stance on
>  >previous anti-U.S. groups. In the past, the United States and
>  >others treated support for and hosting of such groups as one
>  >strand in a bilateral relationship. It was certainly a black
>  >mark, but it was also not a reason for decisive action.
>  >
>  >So in spite of the fact that the Syrians supported and hosted
>  >extremists groups, the United States did not regard this by
>  >itself as a reason to launch military action. Quite the contrary,
>  >Washington maintained a complex and varied relationship with
>  >Syria in which it would fight to undermine these groups while
>  >simultaneously working with the government on other matters. In
>  >short, support for militant groups was not a threshold, but
>  >simply another strand in the relationship.
>  >
>  >Clearly, Bush intends to change that. Under the emerging Bush
>  >Doctrine, if a nation supports or hosts a group that intends to
>  >attack the United States, or if it deliberately fails to act
>  >against such a group, then that nation is in a de facto state of
>  >war with the United States. The act of supporting or hosting such
>  >groups is a threshold that renders all other aspects of a
>  >bilateral relationship of no consequence. At a time and place of
>  >its choosing, the United States will act against both the group
>  >and the state.
>  >
>  >In order to prevent the emergence of follow-on al Qaedas, the
>  >central feature must be to deny them sanctuary. Ideally, as some
>  >have suggested, the United States could work to abolish the
>  >poverty and misunderstanding that have given rise to al Qaeda.
>  >Unfortunately, even if this were possible, there is no time.
>  >
>  >The threat, in the eyes of the Bush administration, is a matter
>  >of months and the abolition of poverty is a matter of
>  >generations. Therefore, if the carrot is impossible, then the
>  >stick will be used.
>  >
>  >It is not clear that the Bush Doctrine will ever be formalized.
>  >But it is increasingly apparent that the United States is moving
>  >to adopt this strategy. It is a complete reshaping of U.S. global
>  >strategy based on the assumption that the interests of the United
>  >States have been fundamentally redefined by al Qaeda. An
>  >extraordinary threat has been posed. An extraordinary solution
>  >will be implemented.
>  >
>  >In one sense, this seems to play into al Qaeda's hands. The
>  >group's strategy was to force the United States into a war with
>  >the Islamic world, so that its vision of Washington as the
>  >"crusader" enemy of Islam would be validated.
>  >
>  >The Bush strategy accepts such a risk for two reasons. First,
>  >there is no choice. If the United States refuses to attack al
>  >Qaeda everywhere out of fear of perceptions, then al Qaeda will
>  >be a perpetual menace. Second, al Qaeda envisioned a series of
>  >broad attacks that were neither devastating nor decisive. The
>  >United States is indeed launching a broad attack, but intends to
>  >make it so stunningly decisive that it will impose a reality that
>  >will render perception immaterial.
>  >
>  >The Bush strategy also plays to the core strengths of the United
>  >States. The United States is a global power and this is a global
>  >strategy. It is heavily dependent on military power and not
>  >particularly dependent on complex diplomatic solutions.
>  >
>  >The last aspect is critical because, in this mode of thinking,
>  >time is of the essence. Al Qaeda is already deployed and other
>  >attacks will happen. If it does not yet have WMD, it is certainly
>  >trying to get them. Therefore, every day's delay increases the
>  >possibility of catastrophe. It follows then, that there is not an
>  >infinite amount of time available for action.