US in final stage of national security revamp
By Caroline Daniel in Washington
Published: January 5 2006 22:05 | Last updated: January 5 2006 22:11
The White House is in the final stages of updating its National Security Strategy document, the first formal reassessment of its foreign policy posture since the landmark 2002 paper that set the stage for pre-emptive strikes against terrorist threats.
The revised version is expected to be published next month, administration officials confirmed. It is being drafted by National Security Council officials, led by Peter Feaver, a former Duke University academic, but has not yet been presented to President George W. Bush for approval.
The September 2002 document, which marked the most profound shift in US foreign and security policy since President Harry S. Truman in 1947 laid out the strategy of containing the Soviet Union, provoked controversy by claiming the right to strike unilaterally and pre-emptively against hostile states and terrorists groups seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction. The US invaded Iraq six months later.
The new document will mark the first time Stephen Hadley, national security adviser, has put his stamp on the administration’s security policy. Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, led the 2002 review.
NSC officials declined to comment on what changes were likely to be made to the existing strategy. However, analysts predicted it would emphasise nation-building and the problems of weak states, rather than the targeting of rogue states. Many of the key themes of the 2002 document were mentioned by Mr Bush in speeches ahead of its publication, suggesting that his recent four keynote Iraq speeches will set the tone of the current review.
Ivo Daalder, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said: “In 2002 the fundamental nature of the threat was al-Qaeda and links with state sponsors, and was about rogue states. The president’s speeches over the last three, four months have identified the threat away from states to an organised group of extremist ideologists, and that democracy is the way to counter that. None of that is in the 2002 document, so there is a re-evaluation of the threat.”
Some neo-conservatives expressed concern that the updated document could mark a retreat from the more assertive positions of 2002, such as pre-emption, the signature strategy of the administration.
Gary Schmitt, resident scholar at the AEI , the American Enterprise Institute and and former executive director of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, said: “This will be interesting to watch, as everyone dissects every sentence and paragraph to see if there is some change of course, some sign the president is less ‘neo-con’ in the strategic path he has set the country on.”
The review coincides with the quadrennial defence review, which is due next month and will redirect military priorities. Defence department officials have warned contractors to expect flatter budgets.