National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002)

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A document, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America,[1] published in 2002 by the George W. Bush Administration, was the public core of what came to be called the Bush Doctrine. Perhaps its key change from existing policy was that it largely abandoned deterrence in preference of a broadly defined "preemption" approach,[2] which corresponded more to concepts of preventive war than preemptive attack.

This strategy emphasized:


Overview of America’s International Strategy

Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity

Strengthen 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

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 the Other Main Centers of Global Power

Transform America’s National Security Institutions to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities of the Twenty-First Century

Administration commentary

Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Condaleeza Rice said the President had said of it, "This is the ... Security Strategy of the [entire] United States. The boys in Lubbock ought to be able to read it." In a presentation in New York, she observed that "Manhattan is not Lubbock, but it is that same spirit that brings me here tonight to speak plainly about some of the great issues facing our country...Foreign policy is ultimately about security -- about defending our people, our society, and our values, such as freedom, tolerance, openness, and diversity... Today's threats come less from massing armies than from small, shadowy bands of terrorists -- less from strong states than from weak or failed states. And after 9/11, there is no longer any doubt that today America faces an existential threat [3] to our security -- a threat as great as any we faced during the Civil War, the so-called "Good War", or the Cold War. " [4]

Rice said key elements were This strategy has three pillars:

  • We will defend the peace by opposing and preventing violence by terrorists and outlaw regimes.
  • We will preserve the peace by fostering an era of good relations among the world's great powers.
  • And we will extend the peace by seeking to extend the benefits of freedom and prosperity across the globe.

In September 2002, Iraq was at the center of her presentation:

We will break up terror networks, hold to account nations that harbor terrorists, and confront aggressive tyrants holding or seeking nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that might be passed to terrorist allies. These are different faces of the same evil. Terrorists need a place to plot, train, and organize. Tyrants allied with terrorists can greatly extend the reach of their deadly mischief. Terrorists allied with tyrants can acquire technologies allowing them to murder on an ever more massive scale. Each threat magnifies the danger of the other. And the only path to safety is to effectively confront both terrorists and tyrants.

For these reasons, President Bush is committed to confronting the Iraqi regime, which has defied the just demands of the world for over a decade. We are on notice. The danger from Saddam Hussein's arsenal is far more clear than anything we could have foreseen prior to September 11th. And history will judge harshly any leader or nation that saw this dark cloud and sat by in complacency or indecision.


Francis Fukuyama, in America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, wrote that it was a revolutionary expansion of the doctrine of preemption, into the realm of preventive attack, against threats months and years away. [5]


  1. George W. Bush (September 2002), National Security Strategy of the United States of America
  2. National Security Strategy Report - September 2002, Globalsecurity
  3. emphasis added
  4. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, ed. (October 1, 2002), "Dr. Condoleezza Rice Discusses President's National Security Strategy", The American Presidency Project, Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database)
  5. Francis Fukuyama (2006), America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, Yale University Press, ISBN 0300113994,pp. 83-84