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Countering 21st Century Enemies and WMD Threats

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2002 – At the heart of the new National Security Strategy is a fundamental change in the way America addresses the 21st century threat of weapons of mass destruction, said presidential adviser Robert Joseph.

Joseph, speaking at the Fletcher Conference here Oct. 16, said the greatest difference between previous strategies and the one President Bush released Sept. 17 is in "the description of and the prescription for defending against today's threats." Joseph is an adviser to the National Security Council.

He said the war on terrorism is a new type of war that requires America to think differently about threats and to harness new tools and methods to defeat those threats.

Joseph said the administration's concerns about terrorism and weapons of mass destruction predate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington. In speeches in Washington, Bush urged the country to move beyond Cold War approaches to security. The president was explicit in the need for new thinking and new tools for dealing with the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Bush made a call to "take into account contemporary threats that do not represent simply lesser cases of the old Soviet model," Joseph said.

The Soviet Union regarded weapons of mass destruction as one example of its power. The people in charge regarded the weapons as a defense of last resort, not their preferred response. Rogue states represent different threats.

"These weapons are viewed by rogue states as weapons of choice, not as weapons of last resort," he said. Deterring and defending against these weapons in the hands of such leaders will be tougher than in the past.

"There are no mutual understandings with these states," he said. "There are no effective lines of communications with them."

Joseph said these states would use these weapons to blackmail the United States by holding a few U.S. cities hostage. "Our new adversaries seek enough destructive power to blackmail us so that we will not come to the help of our friends, who would then become the victims of aggression," he said.

A threat also comes from the nexus between these rogue states and terror organizations. "This element has grown in importance as we have learned about al Qaeda's growing interest in acquiring -- from rogue states and other sources -- chemical, biological and radiological weapons," he said. "This threat of terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction is made more clear when one compares the list of states seeking weapons of mass destruction with the list of states that sponsor terrorists: The lists are virtually identical."

Joseph said the National Security Strategy stands on three pillars, the first being counterproliferation. The United States will build and field the capabilities to deter and defend against the full spectrum of weapons of mass destruction.

"Counterproliferation must also be an integral part of the basic doctrine, training and equipping of our forces as well as our allies to ensure that we can operate and prevail in any conflict with WMD-armed adversaries," he said.

The second pillar is strengthened nonproliferation to rogue states and terrorists. The United States will renew efforts to prevent WMD technologies, experts and materials from reaching dangerous states.

Pre-emption is the third pillar. "The National Security Strategy is clear-headed about what the contemporary WMD threat may require militarily," Joseph said. "Given the immediacy and potential magnitude of the threats and the value our enemies place on weapons of mass destruction as weapons of choice, we can no longer rely on a reactive posture.

"We must, if necessary, act pre-emptively," he said. "We will not do so in all cases, and our use of force will be deliberate and measured to eliminate a specific threat to the United States, our friends or allies."

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