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Revised national security strategy reaffirms Bush’s pre-emption policy

WASHINGTON – In the first major foreign policy review since 2002, President Bush said Thursday that Iran may pose the greatest challenge to the United States. He criticized China and Russia for political repression and underscored his administration’s strike-first policy against terrorists and other enemies.”Our preference is to act through diplomacy in conjunction with friends and allies. That is our preference. That is our practice,” Stephen Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, said about the pre-emption doctrine he insists is not aimed at Iran.”It simply says, that one cannot let dangers grow to the point of imminent threat to the United States without taking action, and if other measures fail, obviously we retain the right to use force.”The 49-page report also said: North Korea poses a serious nuclear proliferation challenge; expresses dismay at rollbacks in democratic reform in Russia; brands Syria a tyranny that harbors terrorists and sponsors terrorist activity; and warns China against denying personal and political freedoms.”China’s leaders must realize, however, that they cannot stay on this peaceful path while holding on to old ways of thinking and acting that exacerbate concerns throughout the region and the world,” Bush wrote.The report accuses Iran of meddling in Iraq and equipping the insurgency, which is threatening a fragile democracy in Baghdad. The report was released as U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the largest air assault mission against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in April 2003.The administration is working to persuade Russia and China to support a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Iran end its uranium enrichment program.”This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided,” Bush said. He did not elaborate on what would happen if international negotiations with Iran were to fail.Hadley said the international effort must speak with one voice if diplomacy can succeed in getting Iran to curb this step in nuclear weapons development.”We are, I think, beginning to get indications that the Iranians are finally beginning to listen,” Hadley said. “There is beginning to be a debate within the leadership – and I would hope a debate between the leadership and their people – about whether the course they’re on is the right course for the good of their country.”The report is an updated version of one Bush issued in 2002 that outlined the pre-emptive policy, marking an end of a deterrent military strategy that dominated the Cold War.The latest report makes it clear Bush has not changed his mind, even though no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.”Obviously, we didn’t have the intelligence we needed in that particular instance,” Hadley said. “In some sense, those countries that pursue weapons of mass destruction in secret also learned an important lesson – that there are risks of that kind of behavior and that kind of activity.”Susan Rice, a national security expert at the Brookings Institution, an independent policy research group, said the report echoes the 2002 version “by reaffirming the discredited doctrine of pre-emption, while shifting the presumed target of that doctrine from Iraq to Iran.””This shift is ironic since the administration’s all-encompassing, four-year preoccupation with Iraq afforded Iran the time and space to pursue its nuclear ambitions and undermine U.S. security interests in the Middle East,” Rice said.—On the Web:National Security Strategy: http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss/2006Vail, Colorado


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