Chapter V. Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons
of Mass Destruction
Section C. The Way Ahead - 4. The Need for Action
The new strategic environment requires new approaches to deterrence and defense. Our
deterrence strategy no longer rests primarily on the grim premise of inflicting devastating
consequences on potential foes. Both offenses and defenses are necessary to deter state
and non-state actors, through denial of the objectives of their attacks and, if necessary,
responding with overwhelming force.
Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role. We are
strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike
systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities); active and passive
defenses, including missile defenses; and a responsive infrastructure, all bound together
by enhanced command and control, planning, and intelligence systems. These
capabilities will better deter some of the new threats we face, while also bolstering our
security commitments to allies. Such security commitments have played a crucial role in
convincing some countries to forgo their own nuclear weapons programs, thereby aiding
our nonproliferation objectives.
Deterring potential foes and assuring friends and allies, however, is only part of a broader
approach. Meeting WMD proliferation challenges also requires effective international
action and the international community is most engaged in such action when the United
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Taking action need not involve military force. Our strong preference and common
practice is to address proliferation concerns through international diplomacy, in concert
with key allies and regional partners. If necessary, however, under long-standing
principles of self defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if
uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. When the
consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to
stand idly by as grave dangers materialize. This is the principle and logic of preemption.
The place of preemption in our national security strategy remains the same. We will
always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions. The reasons for
our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.
Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction
This Administration inherited an Iraq threat that was unresolved. In early 2001, the international
support for U.N. sanctions and continued limits on the Iraqi regime's weapons-related activity
was eroding, and key UNSC members were asking that they be lifted.
For America, the September 11 attacks underscored the danger of allowing threats to linger
unresolved. Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of 16 UNSC resolutions over 12 years,
combined with his record of invading neighboring countries, supporting terrorists, tyrannizing
his own people, and using chemical weapons, presented a threat we could no longer ignore.
The UNSC unanimously passed Resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002, calling for full and
immediate compliance by the Iraqi regime with its disarmament obligations. Once again,
Saddam defied the international community. According to the Iraq Survey Group, the team of
inspectors that went into Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled and whose report provides the
fullest accounting of the Iraqi regime's illicit activities:
"Saddam continued to see the utility of WMD. He explained that he purposely gave an
ambiguous impression about possession as a deterrent to Iran. He gave explicit direction to
maintain the intellectual capabilities. As U.N. sanctions eroded there was a concomitant
expansion of activities that could support full WMD reactivation. He directed that ballistic
missile work continue that would support long-range missile development. Virtually no senior
Iraqi believed that Saddam had forsaken WMD forever. Evidence suggests that, as resources
became available and the constraints of sanctions decayed, there was a direct expansion of
activity that would have the effect of supporting future WMD reconstitution."
With the elimination of Saddam's regime, this threat has been addressed, once and for all.
The Iraq Survey Group also found that pre-war intelligence estimates of Iraqi WMD stockpiles
were wrong a conclusion that has been confirmed by a bipartisan commission and
congressional investigations. We must learn from this experience if we are to counter
successfully the very real threat of proliferation.
First, our intelligence must improve. The President and the Congress have taken steps to
reorganize and strengthen the U.S. intelligence community. A single, accountable leader of the
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intelligence community with authorities to match his responsibilities, and increased sharing of
information and increased resources, are helping realize this objective.
Second, there will always be some uncertainty about the status of hidden programs since
proliferators are often brutal regimes that go to great lengths to conceal their activities. Indeed,
prior to the 1991 Gulf War, many intelligence analysts underestimated the WMD threat posed by
the Iraqi regime. After that conflict, they were surprised to learn how far Iraq had progressed
along various pathways to try to produce fissile material.
Third, Saddam's strategy of bluff, denial, and deception is a dangerous game that dictators
play at their peril. The world offered Saddam a clear choice: effect full and immediate
compliance with his disarmament obligations or face serious consequences. Saddam chose the
latter course and is now facing judgment in an Iraqi court. It was Saddam's reckless behavior
that demanded the world's attention, and it was his refusal to remove the ambiguity that he
created that forced the United States and its allies to act. We have no doubt that the world is a
better place for the removal of this dangerous and unpredictable tyrant, and we have no doubt
that the world is better off if tyrants know that they pursue WMD at their own peril.
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