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Background: Security Plan

Kwame Holman reports on the President's new national security strategy of preemptive action.

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    At the State Department, Secretary Colin Powell spoke about the new White House national security strategy. It lays out a doctrine of preemptive strikes against terrorists and hostile states, stating, "As a matter of common sense and self defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed."


    Mr. Secretary, would you care to comment on the apparently proposed plan by the Administration for preemptive action as a new policy for the administration?


    Preemption has always been part of any national security strategy that I'm familiar with. And I think the way you will see it portrayed in the national security strategy, it suggests that it has always been an option for the President. What we see now, however, in light of so many non-state actors who are not containable on the scene in the form of terrorists, I would think that the doctrine of preemption or the idea of preemption should rise a little higher because when we see something coming at us, we should take action to stop it.


    The document, required of every President, calls for strengthening global alliances to fight terror groups, but also says "we will be prepared to act apart when our interests and unique responsibilities require." The strategy also endorses proactive counter-proliferation measures to stop rogue states and terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It calls for free markets and free trade as avenues toward global security, and a 50 percent boost in foreign aid to bolster countries that, in the eyes of the U.S., are engaged in democratic, political and economic reforms. It also says the U.S. enjoys unparalleled military strength and that Washington will prevent any other country from trying to catch up with the U.S. militarily. White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer addressed that issue at today's press conference.


    What the world has seen in the 20th century is a benevolent America that uses its strength for good around the world.


    Fleischer said, as a general rule, Washington remains extremely reluctant to use military force.

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