V. Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us,
Our Allies, and Our Friends
with Weapons of Mass Destruction
The gravest danger to freedom lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology.
When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons,
along with ballistic missile technologywhen that occurs, even weak states
and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations.
Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking
these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us,
or to harm our friendsand we will oppose them with all our power.
West Point, New York
June 1, 2002
The nature of the Cold War threat required the
United Stateswith our allies and friendsto
emphasize deterrence of the enemys use of force,
producing a grim strategy of mutual assured
destruction.With the collapse of the Soviet Union
and the end of the Cold War, our security environment
has undergone profound transformation.
Having moved from confrontation to cooperation
as the hallmark of our relationship with Russia,
the dividends are evident: an end to the balance of
terror that divided us; an historic reduction in the
nuclear arsenals on both sides; and cooperation in
areas such as counterterrorism and missile defense
that until recently were inconceivable.
But new deadly challenges have emerged from
rogue states and terrorists. None of these contemporary
threats rival the sheer destructive power
that was arrayed against us by the Soviet Union.
However, the nature and motivations of these new
adversaries, their determination to obtain destructive
powers hitherto available only to the worlds
strongest states, and the greater likelihood that
they will use weapons of mass destruction against
us, make todays security environment more
complex and dangerous.
In the 1990s we witnessed the emergence of a
small number of rogue states that, while different
in important ways, share a number of attributes.
- brutalize their own people and squander
their national resources for the personal gain
of the rulers;
- display no regard for international law,
threaten their neighbors, and callously
violate international treaties to which they
- are determined to acquire weapons of mass
destruction, along with other advanced
military technology, to be used as threats or
offensively to achieve the aggressive designs
of these regimes;
- sponsor terrorism around the globe; and
- reject basic human values and hate the United
States and everything for which it stands.
At the time of the Gulf War, we acquired
irrefutable proof that Iraqs designs were not
limited to the chemical weapons it had used
against Iran and its own people, but also extended
to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and biological
agents. In the past decade North Korea has
become the worlds principal purveyor of ballistic
missiles, and has tested increasingly capable
missiles while developing its own WMD arsenal.
Other rogue regimes seek nuclear, biological, and
chemical weapons as well. These states pursuit of,
and global trade in, such weapons has become a
looming threat to all nations.
We must be prepared to stop rogue states and
their terrorist clients before they are able to
threaten or use weapons of mass destruction
against the United States and our allies and
friends. Our response must take full advantage of
strengthened alliances, the establishment of new
partnerships with former adversaries, innovation
in the use of military forces, modern technologies,
including the development of an effective missile
defense system, and increased emphasis on
intelligence collection and analysis.
Our comprehensive strategy to combat
- Proactive counterproliferation efforts. We
must deter and defend against the threat
before it is unleashed.We must ensure that
key capabilitiesdetection, active and
passive defenses, and counterforce
capabilitiesare integrated into our defense
transformation and our homeland security
systems. Counterproliferation must also be
integrated into the doctrine, training, and
equipping of our forces and those of our
allies to ensure that we can prevail in any
conflict with WMD-armed adversaries.
- Strengthened nonproliferation efforts to
prevent rogue states and terrorists from
acquiring the materials, technologies, and
expertise necessary for weapons of mass
destruction. We will enhance diplomacy,
arms control, multilateral export controls,
and threat reduction assistance that impede
states and terrorists seeking WMD, and
when necessary, interdict enabling technologies
and materials.We will continue to build
coalitions to support these efforts, encouraging
their increased political and financial
support for nonproliferation and threat
reduction programs. The recent G-8
agreement to commit up to $20 billion to a
global partnership against proliferation
marks a major step forward.
- Effective consequence management to respond
to the effects of WMD use, whether by terrorists
or hostile states. Minimizing the effects of
WMD use against our people will help deter
those who possess such weapons and
dissuade those who seek to acquire them by
persuading enemies that they cannot attain
their desired ends. The United States must
also be prepared to respond to the effects of
WMD use against our forces abroad, and to
help friends and allies if they are attacked.
It has taken almost a decade for us to
comprehend the true nature of this new threat.
Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the
United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive
posture as we have in the past. The inability
to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of
todays threats, and the magnitude of potential
harm that could be caused by our adversaries
choice of weapons, do not permit that option.We
cannot let our enemies strike first.
In the Cold War, especially following the
Cuban missile crisis, we faced a generally
status quo, risk-averse adversary. Deterrence
was an effective defense. But deterrence
based only upon the threat of retaliation is
less likely to work against leaders of rogue
states more willing to take risks, gambling
with the lives of their people, and the wealth
of their nations.
- In the Cold War, weapons of mass destruction
were considered weapons of last resort
whose use risked the destruction of those
who used them. Today, our enemies see
weapons of mass destruction as weapons of
choice. For rogue states these weapons are
tools of intimidation and military aggression
against their neighbors. These weapons may
also allow these states to attempt to blackmail
the United States and our allies to
prevent us from deterring or repelling the
aggressive behavior of rogue states. Such
states also see these weapons as their best
means of overcoming the conventional
superiority of the United States.
- Traditional concepts of deterrence will not
work against a terrorist enemy whose
avowed tactics are wanton destruction and
the targeting of innocents; whose so-called
soldiers seek martyrdom in death and whose
most potent protection is statelessness. The
overlap between states that sponsor terror and
those that pursue WMD compels us to action.
For centuries, international law recognized that
nations need not suffer an attack before they can
lawfully take action to defend themselves against
forces that present an imminent danger of attack.
Legal scholars and international jurists often
conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the
existence of an imminent threatmost often a
visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air
forces preparing to attack.
We must adapt the concept of imminent
threat to the capabilities and objectives of todays
adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not
seek to attack us using conventional means.
They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they
rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of
weapons of mass destructionweapons that can
be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used
The targets of these attacks are our military
forces and our civilian population, in direct violation
of one of the principal norms of the law of
warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on
September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the
specific objective of terrorists and these losses
would be exponentially more severe if terrorists
acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.
The United States has long maintained the
option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient
threat to our national security. 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 enemys attack. To forestall or prevent such
hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States
will, if necessary, act preemptively.
The United States will not use force in all cases
to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations
use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in
an age where the enemies of civilization openly
and actively seek the worlds most destructive
technologies, the United States cannot remain idle
while dangers gather.
We will always proceed deliberately, weighing
the consequences of our actions. To support
preemptive options, we will:
- build better, more integrated intelligence
capabilities to provide timely, accurate information
on threats, wherever they may emerge;
- coordinate closely with allies to form a
common assessment of the most dangerous
- continue to transform our military forces to
ensure our ability to conduct rapid and
precise operations to achieve decisive results.
The purpose of our actions will always be to
eliminate a specific threat to the United States or
our allies and friends. The reasons for our actions
will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.
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