U.S. Foreign Policy Strategy: Preemptive vs. Containment





Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy defense secretary, was the brain behind the U.S. preemptive strategy that shaped the current campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.


He belonged to a group that called themselves "neo-Reaganites" who were very unhappy about the way the first gulf war was ended. He believed that U.S. should talk loudly and carry a big stick and use it before weapons of mass destruction could be used. And if U.S. had to act alone, so be it.


Wolfowitz wrote them down in a top-secret draft (1992). Inside Pentagon, people thought this thing was nuts, and leaked to The New York Times for public debate. The document outlined seven scenarios in potential trouble spots. The primary case studies were Iraq and North Korea.


To dim the controversy, defense Secretary Cheney has to rewrite Wolfowitz's draft by reiterated the nation's reliance on containment and coalitions before taking action. When George Bush senior left office, Wolfowitz's draft plan went into the bottom drawer until the event of September Eleven (9/11/2001).


And the rest is history ...







Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has been at the center of Pentagon strategic planning in both Bush administrations.


A hawk on the use of U.S. military power, Wolfowitz took the lead in drafting the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance on America's military posture toward the world.


The draft said that CONTAINMENT was an old idea, a relic of the cold war. It advocated that America should maintain military strength beyond challenge and use it to PREEMPT provocations from rogue states with weapons of mass destruction.


And it stated that, if necessary, the U.S. should be prepared to act alone. Leaked to the press, Wolfowitz's draft was rewritten and softened by then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.


Ten years later, many analysts see a strong resemblance between President Bush's 2002 National Security Strategy and Wolfowitz's 1992 draft.





Released Sept. 17, 2002, twenty months after President Bush took office, the 33-page "National Security Strategy of the United States" (NSS) offers the administration's first comprehensive rationale for a new, aggressive approach to national security.


The new strategy calls for PRE-EMPTIVE action against hostile states and terror groups, and it states that the U.S. "will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively."


The NSS also focuses on how diplomacy and foreign aid can and should be used to project American values, including "a battle for the future of the Muslim world."




Sources: Barton Gellman of The Washington Post; Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard; historian John Lewis Gaddis of Yale; and Dennis Ross, former State Department official and Mideast envoy.