Pentagon Reaffirms Globocop Role
has been a bad month for the world's multilateralists who, encouraged
by several early appointments to the State Department and a successful
presidential tour of Europe, had hoped that George W. Bush would
temper his unilateralist instincts in his second term.
culminating in Friday's release by the Pentagon of a new "National
Defense Strategy of the United States of America," the last
few weeks have showered a bracing dose of cold water on that notion.
with the nomination earlier in the month of super-unilateralist
John Bolton as Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, as well
as the U.S. withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International
Court of Justice (ICJ) for cases involving the Vienna Convention
on Consular Relations, the Strategy strongly suggests that Washington's
interest in its traditional alliances, multilateral institutions,
and even international law is on a downward trajectory.
24-page public document, signed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
is designed to lay out some of the basic assumptions of the U.S.
role in the world, particularly as regards peace and security, that
will guide the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), an important exercise
carried out every four years that steers U.S. strategy, the Pentagon's
more than 400-billion-dollar annual budget, and military "transformation"
over the next five to 10 years.
the New York Times highlighted one suggested innovation –
inviting foreign allies into classified discussions on the QDR as
it is developed – as evidence of greater collegiality and
openness to allies, the Strategy puts far greater stress on the
critical importance of retaining Washington's independence and its
unchallengeable military dominance in strategic regions, particularly
in and around Eurasia.
the first of four "strategic objectives" listed in the
report is securing the U.S. from direct attack, the second is to
"secure strategic access and retain global freedom of action."
alliances and partnerships" rates number three. At another
point, it warns that "[s]ome enemies may seek to terrorize
our population and destroy our way of life, while others will try
to ...limit our global freedom to act..."
dramatic contrast to the National Security Strategy of the USA released
in September 2002 – nine months after Washington ousted the
Taliban in Afghanistan and six months before its invasion of Iraq
– the latest strategy does not even mention the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) by name, except obliquely by the phrase
"traditional allies" or "partners," suggesting
a strong preference for ad hoc "coalitions of the willing,"
rather than permanent collective-security arrangements.
is kind of missing in action now in their strategy," Loren
Thompson, a military analyst at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute,
told the Los Angeles Times.
United Nations and the U.N. Security Council also go unmentioned
in the new document.
other aspects of the Strategy also suggest a growing wariness of,
if not hostility to, multinational mechanisms and international
"vulnerabilities," for example, the Strategy notes, "Our
strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those
who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial
processes, and terrorism."
the outgoing undersecretary of Defense for policy, Douglas Feith,
stressed that the provision was not intended to equate proponents
of international law with terrorists, he made clear that Washington
will resist attempts to submit it to treaties that it has not ratified,
such as the Rome Protocol for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
arguments that some people make to try to, in effect, criminalize
foreign policy and bring prosecutions where there is no basis for
jurisdiction under international law as a way of trying to pressure
American officials," he said, echoing a position long held
by Bolton and other members of the right-wing Federalist Society,
an association of lawyers and judges who strongly oppose the application
of international law and conventions if, in their view, they impinge
on U.S. sovereignty.
there are countries that don't share our goals, they may try to
use established international fora to inhibit us doing what we need
to do in our national interest," added Admiral William Sullivan,
vice director of the Strategy, Plans and Policy Office of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. "That's what this paragraph addresses."
document also makes clear that Washington intends to ignore or demand
changes in international law if they constrain Washington's freedom
of the current legal arrangements that govern overseas posture date
from an earlier era," it states. "Today, challenges are
more diverse and complex, our prospective contingencies are more
widely dispersed, and our international partners are more numerous.
agreements relevant to our posture must reflect these circumstances
and support greater operational flexibility. They must help, not
hinder, the rapid deployment and employment of U.S. and coalition
forces worldwide in a crisis," it goes on, adding, for example,
that legal protections for U.S. personnel against possible transfer
to the ICC, the global tribunal for crimes against humanity, genocide
and war crimes, will continue to be sought.
Strategy also reiterates Bush's strategic doctrine of "pre-emption,"
particularly in the case of a "potentially catastrophic impact
of an attack against the United States, its allies and its interests,"
a phrase that, significantly, did not qualify its application to
situations in which such an attack was "imminent."
the Strategy calls for "preventive" military action by
the U.S. and its partners, citing, as an example, "to prevent
the outbreak of hostilities or to help defend or restore a friendly
government. Under the most dangerous and compelling circumstances,
prevention might require the use of force to disable or destroy
(weapons of mass destruction) in the possession of terrorists or
others or to strike targets (e.g., terrorists) that direct threaten
the United States or U.S. friends or other interests."
Strategy suggests that Washington will not be reluctant to send
its forces into other states that, in its opinion, do not "exercise
their sovereignty responsibly" or that "use the principle
of sovereignty as a shield behind which they claim to be free to
engage in activities that pose enormous threats to their citizens,
neighbors, or the rest of the international community."
freedom of action, which the document asserts, will provide a stabilizing
influence in key regions," must also be assured "in and
from the global commons, including space and cyberspace, as well
as international waters and airspace.
goals ...are to ensure our access to and use of space, and to deny
hostile exploitation of space to adversaries," the document
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2005 Inter Press Service