October 19th 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Bush changes US strategic doctrine

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: ALP Conference: triumph of 'spin' over substance

CANBERRA OBSERVED: PM's loopy housing scheme evades rebuke

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Social 'reforms': Rann's devious politics

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Yes - it is about oil, and arms, and ... doublethink

SUGAR: Behind the sugar crisis

OBITUARY: Ted Serong: a great Australian

FINANCE: A $50 billion war chest for the ALP?

LETTERS: Superannuation and the ALP (letter)

LETTERS: Democrats (letter)

LETTERS: Life matters (letter)

WATER: Wimmera-Mallee major water conservation project underway

CHINA: China will remain the major challenge to America

COMMENT: Share collapse: we've seen it all before

BUSINESS: Just how 'ethical' can business be?

COMMENT: Dysfunctional Victoria

BOOKS: Wilful murder: the Sinking of the Lusitania, by Diana Preston

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Bush changes US strategic doctrine

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, October 19, 2002
A year after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, President George Bush has unveiled a new strategic doctrine which foreshadows a first-strike strategy against terrorist organisations and "rogue states" such as Irak and North Korea.

It gives the strongest possible indication that the Bush Administration is willing to deploy its power to deal with enemies of the United States before they attack the US or kill Americans.

As the ALP has put its faith in UN-mediation to resolve international disputes, this may well polarise Australian politics - as well as relations with Washington, on whom Australia's security still depends.

The new doctrine explicitly reverses the policy of deterrence, which governed American policy since the 1950s.

It argues that during the Cold War standoff between the democracies and the Soviet Union, deterrence was an effective defence; but a policy based on the threat of retaliation "is less likely to work against leaders of rogue states more willing to take risks, gambling with the lives of their people, and the wealth of their nations."

Strategic doctrine

The new doctrine, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, argues that defending the nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the US Government.

"Today, that task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank. Terrorists are organised to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us."

President Bush said that the war against terrorists of global reach is an enterprise of uncertain duration.

"America will help nations that need our assistance in combating terror. And America will hold to account nations that are compromised by terror, including those who harbour terrorists- because the allies of terror are the enemies of civilisation.

"The United States and countries cooperating with us must not allow the terrorists to develop new home bases. Together, we will seek to deny them sanctuary at every turn."

The American President offered an unexpected olive branch to Palestinians and a warning to Israel, about the need for a peaceful resolution to their on-going conflict.

He said, "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical because of the toll of human suffering, because of America's close relationship with the state of Israel and key Arab states, and because of that region's importance to other global priorities of the United States.

"There can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides," he added.

"America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living beside Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices.

"If Palestinians embrace democracy, and the rule of law, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a Palestinian state.

"Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy.

"So the United States continues to challenge Israeli leaders to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state. As there is progress towards security, Israeli forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And ... Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life.

"The United States can play a crucial role but, ultimately, lasting peace can only come when Israelis and Palestinians resolve the issues and end the conflict between them."

President Bush also said that the US welcomes the emergence of "a strong, peaceful, and prosperous China."

While recognising that democratisation is a key to China's future, he said, "A quarter century after beginning the process of shedding the worst features of the Communist legacy, China's leaders have not yet made the next series of fundamental choices about the character of their state."

"In pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region, China is following an outdated path that, in the end, will hamper its own pursuit of national greatness.

For two-and-a-half thousand years, China has regarded itself as the Middle Kingdom with a hegemonic right over East Asia. That view remains. The rapid military growth of modern China, on the back of its new found economic strength, confirms its world view. Its military growth will allow it to rival other world powers within 50 years.

America's failure to understand this in the new Bush doctrine makes the US optimism in reaching a political and strategic accommodation with Beijing dangerously illusory.

  • Peter Westmore is President of the National Civic Council

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