The report also stresses the need for the U.S. to preserve its global military superiority and “create a balance that favors human freedom.”
The 33-page memo, entitled “The National Security Strategy of the United States,” has rapidly taken shape since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and summarizes a doctrine that would support the White House campaign for possible U.S. preemptive military action to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
The report clearly pledges to defeat terrorists, “by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders,” and explains that “America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones.”
“The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security,” the report states. “The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction — and the more compelling the 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 hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”
The strategy emphasizes that fighting terrorism should replace past military priorities of deterrence and containment established during the Cold War, saying that the task of defending the nation has “changed dramatically.”
“Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank,” the report says. “Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us.”
The report reflects a struggle between the U.S. and the Muslim world, stating a need for “a different and more comprehensive approach to public information efforts that can help people around the world learn about and understand America.”
“The war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations. It does, however, reveal the clash inside a civilization, a battle for the future of the Muslim world. This is a struggle of ideas and this is an area where America must excel,” the report says.
It also echoes longstanding U.S. missions of fostering “free and open societies on every continent” and encourages Russia and China to find that “social and political freedom is the only source of national greatness.”
“We will strongly resist aggression from other great powers — even as we welcome their peaceful pursuit of prosperity, trade, and cultural advancement,” the report adds.
The document fits under the guidelines of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act, which requires every president to outline a national security strategy for Congress.
Speaking at a daily press briefing Friday, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher deferred to a forthcoming background briefing on the release saying, “Well, this document is required under the law … and that’s why it was produced. And this has been discussed in a great many places with a great many people. It’s a very long preparation time to prepare a document like this.”