DOCUMENT & COMMENTARY: The National Defense Strategy of the USA
Written by Henry Adams Tuesday, 22 March 2005
Below is the full text of the Pentagon’s extraordinary plan for global empire — and beyond: The March 2005 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America, preceded by a brief commentary….
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
By Henry Adams
United for Peace of Pierce County
March 22, 2005
The eagle has landed.
Below is full text of the Pentagon’s 10,426-word plan for global empire, first described by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday; the source of the complete text presented below is the web site globalsecurity.org.
The March 2005 "National Defense Strategy of the United States of America" (NDS), whose ostensible purpose is to guide the Quadrennial Defense Review, is a revolutionary text, in that it explicitly overthrows the principle of national sovereignty, upon which international relations have been based for many centuries.
The principle of sovereignty is the principle upon which the United Nations (unmentioned in the NDS) is based. Article 2, Section 1 of the Charter of the United Nations states: "The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members." But the NDS states: "It is unacceptable for regimes to 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."
The grounds the NDS offers for this revolutionary proclamation are familiar ones: "the potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." This means, the document explains, that "great dangers may arise in and emanate from relatively weak states and ungoverned areas."
Additional dangers the document foresees: enemies who seek "to terrorize our population and destroy our way of life," or try to "limit our global freedom to act," or aim to "dominate key regions," or "attempt to make prohibitive the costs of meeting various U.S. international commitments."
Faced with such "threats," the NDS commits the U.S. to "an active defense of the nation and its interests," which is a euphemism for aggression, by "securing strategic access to key regions, lines of communication, and the global commons," which are euphemisms for resource-rich regions.
The NDS is not without its amusing aspects. For example, in a paragraph in Section I.B. on "problem states," the Pentagon might be describing the United States when it speaks of states that "squander their resources to benefit ruling elites, their armed forces, or extremist clients. They often disregard international law and violate international agreements. Problem states may seek WMD or other destabilizing military capabilities. Some support terrorist activities, including by giving terrorists safe haven."
Another interesting aspect of the doctrine is its assertion that "the Global War on Terrorism is not a war against Islam, but rather is an outgrowth of a civil war within Islam between extremists and those who oppose them."
The intent of the NDS to substitute the war on terror for the Cold War as a justification for a generations-long struggle that legitimates the existence of the U.S. national security state is clear: "As in the Cold War, victory will come only when the ideological motivation for the terrorists’ activities has been discredited and no longer has the power to motivate streams of individuals to risk and sacrifice their lives."
In other words, "America is at war" — and the war will be endless.
The intent to attack Iran in the coming months is signaled in this passage: "Prevention might require the use of force to disable or destroy WMD in the possession of terrorists or others or to strike targets (e.g., terrorists) that directly threaten the United States or U.S. friends or other interests."
Reading the National Defense Strategy of the United States of America is a chilling experience. There are several passages that give one pause.
For example, Posse Comitatus would seem to be a dead letter: "At the direction of the President, the Department will undertake military missions at home."
The intention militarily to dominate outer space (oddly defined as part of the "global commons," along with international waters, airspace, and cyberspace) is spelled out: "Key goals, therefore, are to ensure our access to and use of space, and to deny hostile exploitation of space to adversaries."
The NDS has fully assimilated the doctrine that the president has unlimited powers under the commander-in-chief clause of the U.S. Constitution, though the Constitution (for the purpose of upholding of which the U.S. military officially exists) and Congress are never mentioned; instead, the operational doctrine is: "if the President so decides."
For "America is a nation at war."
Anyone inclined to object will have second thoughts in noting two passages.
First, those who appeal to international law are lumped together with terrorists in the category of those who would "challenge" (which is, by the way, one of the words most often repeated in the NDS) "our strength as a nation state," which is here a euphemism for empire.
Second, the NDS seems chillingly to allude to a common military euphemism for torture ("setting the conditions for interrogation") when it says: "At the direction of the President, we will defeat adversaries at the time, place, and in the manner of our choosing setting the conditions for future security."
THE NATIONAL DEFENSE STRATEGY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Department of Defense
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. America’s Security in the 21st Century
I.A. America’s Role in the World
I.B. A Changing Security Environment
II.A. Defense Strategy for the 21st Century
II.B. How We Accomplish Our Objectives
II.C. Implementation Guidelines
III. Desired Capabilities and Attributes
III.A. Key Operational Capabilities
We live in a time of unconventional challenges and strategic uncertainty. We are confronting fundamentally different challenges from those faced by the American defense establishment in the Cold War and previous eras. The strategy we adopt today will help influence the world’s strategic environment, for the United States is an unusually powerful player in world affairs. President George W. Bush is committed to ensuring the security of the American people, strengthening the community of free nations, and advancing democratic reform, freedom, and economic well being around the globe.
The Department of Defense is implementing the President’s commitment to the forward defense of freedom as articulated in the National Security Strategy. This National Defense Strategy outlines our approach to dealing with challenges we likely will confront, not just those we are currently best prepared to meet. Our intent is to create favorable security conditions around the world and to continue to transform how we think about security, formulate strategic objectives, and adapt to achieve success.
This strategy emphasizes the importance of influencing events before challenges become more dangerous and less manageable. It builds upon efforts in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) to develop an adaptable, global approach that acknowledges the limits of our intelligence (in all senses of the term), anticipates surprises, and positions us to handle strategic uncertainty.
Since the QDR was released, events have confirmed the importance of assuring allies and friends, dissuading potential adversaries, deterring aggression and coercion, and defeating adversaries. The war on terrorism has exposed new challenges, but also unprecedented strategic opportunities to work at home and with allies and partners abroad to create conditions favorable to a secure international order.
When President Bush took office four years ago, he gave us the mission to prepare the Department of Defense to meet 21st century challenges. This strategy is designed to fulfill that mission. Knowing the dedication and capabilities of our uniformed men and women and of the civilians who support them, I am confident we will succeed.
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
America is a nation at war. We face a diverse set of security challenges. Yet, we still live in an era of advantage and opportunity.
The National Defense Strategy outlines an active, ayered approach to the defense of the nation and its interests. It seeks to create conditions conducive to respect for the sovereignty of nations and a secure international order favorable to freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity. This strategy promotes close cooperation with others around the world who are committed to these goals. It addresses mature and emerging threats.
Secure the United States from direct attack. We will give top priority to dissuading, deterring, and defeating those who seek to harm the United States directly, especially extremist enemies with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Secure strategic access and retain global freedom of action. We will promote the security, prosperity, and freedom of action of the United States and its partners by securing access to key regions, lines of communication, and the global commons.
Strengthen alliances and partnerships. We will expand the community of nations that share principles and interests with us. We will help partners increase their capacity to defend themselves and collectively meet challenges to our common interests.
Establish favorable security conditions. Working with others in the U.S. Government, we will create conditions for a favorable international system by honoring our security commitments and working with other nations to bring about a common appreciation of threats; the steps required to protect against these threats; and a broad, secure, and lasting peace.
HOW WE ACCOMPLISH OUR OBJECTIVES
Assure allies and friends. We will provide assurance by demonstrating our resolve to fulfill our alliance and other defense commitments and help protect common interests.
Dissuade potential adversaries. We will work to dissuade potential adversaries from adopting threatening capabilities, methods, and ambitions, particularly by developing our own key military advantages.
Deter aggression and counter coercion. We will deter by maintaining capable and rapidly deployable military forces and, when necessary, demonstrating the will to resolve conflicts decisively on favorable terms.
Defeat adversaries. At the direction of the President, we will defeat adversaries at the time, place, and in the manner of our choosing setting the conditions for future security.
Four guidelines structure our strategic planning and decision making.
Active, layered defense. We will focus our military planning, posture, operations, and capabilities on the active, forward, and layered defense of our nation, our interests, and our partners.
Continuous transformation. We will continually adapt how we approach and confront challenges, conduct business, and work with others.
Capabilities based approach. We will operationalize this strategy to address mature and emerging challenges by setting priorities among competing capabilities.
Managing risks. We will consider the full range of risks associated with resources and operations and manage clear tradeoffs across the Department.
I. AMERICA’S SECURITY IN THE 21st CENTURY
A. AMERICA’S ROLE IN THE WORLD
America is a nation at war. We face a diverse set of security challenges.
Yet, we still live in an era of advantage and opportunity. We also possess uniquely effective military capabilities that we are seeking to transform to meet future challenges.
As directed by the President in his 2002 National Security Strategy, we will use our position "to build a safer, better world that favors human freedom, democracy, and free enterprise." Our security and that of our international partners — our allies and friends — is based on a common commitment to peace, freedom, and economic opportunity. In cooperation with our international partners, we can build a more peaceful and secure international order in which the . sovereignty of nations is respected.
The United States and its allies and partners have a strong interest in protecting the sovereignty of nation states. In the secure international order that we seek, states must be able to effectively govern themselves and order their affairs as their citizens see fit. Nevertheless, they must exercise their sovereignty responsibly, in conformity with the customary principles of international law, as well as with any additional obligations that they have freely accepted.
It is unacceptable for regimes to 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.
While the security threats of the 20th century arose from powerful states that embarked on aggressive courses, the key dimensions of the 21st century — globalization and the potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction — mean great dangers may arise in and emanate from relatively weak states and ungoverned areas. The U.S., its allies, and partners must remain vigilant to those states that lack the capacity to govern activity within their borders. Sovereign states are obligated to work to ensure that their territories are not used as bases for attacks on others.
Despite our strategic advantages, we are vulnerable to challenges ranging from external attacks to indirect threats posed by aggression and dangerous instability. Some enemies may seek to terrorize our population and destroy our way of life, while others will try to 1) limit our global freedom to act, 2) dominate key regions, or 3) attempt to make prohibitive the costs of meeting various U.S. international commitments.
The United States follows a strategy that aims to preserve and extend peace, freedom; and prosperity throughout the world. The attacks of 9/11 gave us greater clarity on the challenges that confront us. U.S. officials and the public saw then that, without resolute action, even more harmful attacks would likely occur in the future. A reactive or defensive approach would not allow the United States to secure itself and preserve our way of life as a free and open society. Thus, the United States is committed to an active defense of the nation and its interests. This new approach is evident in the war on terrorism.
The United States and its partners have made progress in the war on terrorism through an unprecedented level of international cooperation. More than 170 countries are engaged in activities ranging from freezing terrorist assets to sharing intelligence to providing combat forces for coalition operations. In Afghanistan, a multinational coalition defeated a regime that provided one of the world’s principal havens for terrorists. In Iraq, an American led effort toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein a tyrant who used WMD, supported terrorists, terrorized his population, and threatened his neighbors.
Experience in the war on terrorism has underscored the need for a changed defense establishment one postured both for extended conflict and continuous transformation. This demands an adaptive strategy, predicated on creating and seizing opportunities and contending with challenges through an active, layered defense of the nation and its interests.
B. A CHANGING SECURITY ENVIRONMENT
Uncertainty is the defining characteristic of today’s strategic environment. We can identify trends but cannot predict specific events with precision. While we work to avoid being surprised, we must posture ourselves to handle unanticipated problems — we must plan with surprise in mind.
We contend with uncertainty by adapting to circumstances and influencing events. It is not enough to react to change. This strategy focuses on safeguarding U.S. freedoms and interests while working actively to forestall the emergence of new challenges.
1. MATURE AND EMERGING CHALLENGES
"America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones. We are menaced less by fleets and armies than by catastrophic technologies in the hands of the embittered few." — National Security Strategy, September 2002
The U.S. military predominates in the world in traditional forms of warfare. Potential adversaries accordingly shift away from challenging the United States through traditional military action and adopt asymmetric capabilities and methods. An array of traditional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive capabilities and methods threaten U.S. interests:
—Traditional challenges are posed by states employing recognized military capabilities and forces in well understood forms of military competition and conflict.
—Irregular challenges come from those employing "unconventional" methods to counter the traditional advantages of stronger opponents.
—Catastrophic challenges involve the acquisition, possession, and use of WMD or methods producing WMD like effects.
—Disruptive challenges may come from adversaries who develop and use breakthrough technologies to negate current U.S. advantages in key operational domains.
These categories overlap. Actors proficient in one can be expected to try to reinforce their position with methods and capabilities drawn from others.
Indeed, recent experience indicates that the most dangerous circumstances arise when we face a complex of challenges. For example, our adversaries in Iraq and Afghanistan presented both traditional and irregular challenges. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda are irregular threats but also actively seek catastrophic capabilities. North Korea at once poses traditional, irregular, and catastrophic challenges. Finally, in the future, the most capable opponents may seek to combine truly disruptive capacity with traditional, irregular, or catastrophic forms of warfare.
Traditional challenges. These challenges are most often associated with states employing armies, navies, and air forces in long-established forms of military competition. Traditional military challenges remain important, as many states maintain capabilities to influence security conditions in their region. However, allied superiority in traditional domains, coupled with the costs of traditional military competition, drastically reduce adversaries’ incentives to compete with us in this arena.
As formidable as U.S. capabilities are against traditional opponents, we cannot ignore the challenges that such adversaries might present. Traditional challenges require us to maintain sufficient combat capability in key areas of military competition.
Irregular challenges. Increasingly sophisticated irregular methods — e.g., terrorism and insurgency — challenge U.S. security interests. Adversaries employing irregular methods aim to erode U.S. influence, patience, and political will. Irregular opponents often take a long term approach, attempting to impose prohibitive human, material, financial, and political costs on the United States to compel strategic retreat from a key region or course of action.
Two factors have intensified the danger of irregular challenges: the rise of extremist ideologies and the absence of effective governance.
Political, religious, and ethnic extremism continues to fuel conflicts worldwide.
The absence of effective governance in many parts of the world creates sanctuaries for terrorists, criminals, and insurgents. Many states are unable, and in some cases unwilling, to exercise effective control over their territory or frontiers, thus leaving areas open to hostile exploitation.
Our experience in the war on terrorism points to the need to reorient our military capabilities to contend with such irregular challenges more effectively.
Catastrophic challenges. In the face of American dominance in traditional forms of warfare, some hostile forces are seeking to acquire catastrophic capabilities, particularly weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Porous international borders, weak international controls, and easy access to information related technologies facilitate these efforts. Particularly troublesome is the nexus of transnational terrorists, proliferation, and problem states that possess or seek WMD, increasing the risk of WMD attack against the United States.
Proliferation of WMD technology and expertise makes contending with catastrophic challenges an urgent priority. Even a single catastrophic attack against the United States or an ally would be unacceptable. We will place greater emphasis on those capabilities that enable us to dissuade others from acquiring catastrophic capabilities, to deter their use and, when necessary, to defeat them before they can be employed.
Disruptive challenges. In rare instances, revolutionary technology and associated military innovation can fundamentally alter long-established concepts of warfare. Some potential adversaries are seeking disruptive capabilities to exploit U.S. vulnerabilities and offset the current advantages of the United States and its partners.
Some disruptive breakthroughs, including advances in biotechnology, cyber operations, space, or directed energy weapons, could seriously endanger our security.
As such breakthroughs can be unpredictable, we should recognize their potential consequences and hedge against them.
2. CHANGING RELATIONSHIPS
Alongside the four security challenges are far reaching changes in the international system:
–We continually adapt our defense partnerships.
–Key states face important decisions that will affect their strategic position.
–Some problem states will continue to pose challenges, while others could realize that their current policies undermine their own security.
–Hostile, non state actors have substantial numbers, capability, and, influence.
International partnerships. International partnerships continue to be a principal source of our strength. Shared principles, a common view of threats, and commitment to cooperation provide far greater security than we could achieve on our own. Unprecedented cooperation in the war on terrorism is an example of the benefit of strong international partnerships.
Today, the United States and its partners are threatened not just by enemies who seek to oppose us through traditional means, but also by an active spectrum of non traditional challenges. Key U.S. relationships around the globe are adapting and broadening in response to these changes. Also, we have significantly expanded our circle of security partners around the world.
Key states. Several key states face basic decisions about their roles in global and regional politics, economics, and security, and the pace and direction of their own internal evolution. These decisions may change their strategic position in the world and their relationship with the United States. This uncertainty presents both opportunities and potential challenges for the United States. Some states may move toward greater cooperation with the United States, while others could evolve into capable regional rivals or enemies.
Over time, some rising powers may be able to threaten the United States and our partners directly, rival us in key areas of military and technological competition, or threaten U.S. interests by pursuing dominance over key regions. In other cases, if adverse economic, political, and demographic trends continue, large capable states could become dangerously unstable and increasingly ungovernable, creating significant future challenges.
While remaining alert to the possibility of renewed great power competition, recent developments in our relations with states like Russia and China should encourage a degree of hope. As the President’s National Security Strategy states, "Today, the international community has the best chance since the rise of the nation state in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers compete in peace instead of continually prepare for war."
Problem states. Problem states will continue to undermine regional stability and threaten U.S. interests. These states are hostile to U.S. principles. They commonly squander their resources to benefit ruling elites, their armed forces, or extremist clients. They often disregard international law and violate international agreements. Problem states may seek WMD or other destabilizing military capabilities. Some support terrorist activities, including by giving terrorists safe haven.
As recently demonstrated by Libya, however, some problem states may recognize that the pursuit of WMD leaves them less, not more, secure.
Significant non state actors. Countering the military capabilities of state competitors alone cannot guarantee U.S. security. Challenges today emanate from a variety of state and non state sources. The latter are a diverse collection of terrorists, insurgents, paramilitaries, and criminals who seek to undermine the legitimate governance of some states and who challenge the United States and its interests.
3. ASSUMPTIONS FRAMING THE STRATEGY
This strategy is built on key assumptions about the world, the nature of U.S. strengths and vulnerabilities, and the opportunities and challenges we may see in the coming decade.
The United States will continue to enjoy a number of advantages:
–We will retain a resilient network of alliances and partnerships.
–We will have no global peer competitor and will remain unmatched in traditional military capability.
–We will maintain important advantages in other elements of national power — e.g., political, economic, technological, and cultural.
–We will continue to play leading roles on issues of common international concern and will retain influence worldwide.
Nevertheless, we have vulnerabilities:
–Our capacity to address global security challenges alone will be insufficient.
–Some allies and partners will decide not to act with us or will lack the capacity to act with us.
–Our leading position in world affairs will continue to breed unease, a degree of resentment, and resistance.
–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.
–We and our allies will be the principal targets of extremism and terrorism.
–Natural forces of inertia and resistance to change will constrain military transformation.
The future also offers opportunities:
–The end of the Cold War and our capacity to influence global events open the prospect for a new and peaceful state system in the world.
–Positive developments in Iraq and Afghanistan strengthen U.S. influence and credibility.
–Problem states themselves will increasingly be vulnerable to the forces of positive political and economic change.
–Many of our key partners want to deepen our security relationships with them.
–New international partners are seeking integration into our system of alliances and partnerships.
In the framework of the four mature and emerging challenges outlined earlier, we will contend with the following particular challenges:
–Though we have no global peer, we will have competitors and enemies — state and non state.
–Key international actors may choose strategic paths contrary to the interests of the United States.
–Crises related to political stability and governance will pose significant security challenges. Some of these may threaten fundamental interests of the United States, requiring a military response.
–Internationally — even among our closest partners — threats will be perceived differently, and consensus may be difficult to achieve.
AN ACTIVE DEFENSE
All this necessitates an active defense of the nation and its interests, as explained below and in the National Military Strategy.
II.A. DEFENSE STRATEGY FOR THE 21st CENTURY
This National Defense Strategy outlines how DoD will support broader U.S. efforts to create conditions conducive to a secure international system as the President’s National Security Strategy states, a balance of power that favors freedom. Such conditions include the effective and responsible exercise of sovereignty, representative governance, peaceful resolution of regional disputes, and open and competitive markets.
Our strategic circumstances are far different today from those of the Cold War.
Today, we enjoy significant advantages vis-