Chapter V. Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons
of Mass Destruction
Section A. Summary of National Security Strategy 2002
The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from
what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains
what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an
enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and
counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave
damage. 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 enemy's attack. There are few greater threats than
a terrorist attack with WMD.
To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if
necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United
States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is
that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a
pretext for aggression.
Countering proliferation of WMD requires a comprehensive strategy involving
strengthened nonproliferation efforts to deny these weapons of terror and related
expertise to those seeking them; proactive counterproliferation efforts to defend against
and defeat WMD and missile threats before they are unleashed; and improved protection
to mitigate the consequences of WMD use. We aim to convince our adversaries that they
cannot achieve their goals with WMD, and thus deter and dissuade them from attempting
to use or even acquire these weapons in the first place.