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Summary: The Strategic Situation at Year’s End

Lothar Rühl

The new US homeland security strategy that President Bush announced in September 2002 is aimed at establishing the US as an international security power, while granting the US administration greatest freedom of action in pursuing a pragmatic realpolicy of defending national interests. In addition to "offensive defense" and deterrence in the context of "counter proliferation”, prevention and preemption have become the key terms of a strategy designed to counter arising threats to American security and to the security of Washington's allies.

Washington is facing a number of challenges ranging from continued nuclear strategic disarmament while establishing a missile defense shield, to the fight against covert proliferation of NBC weapons, and the war against terrorism aimed at destroying Western values. The unstable situation in Afghanistan would require continued US engagement, but Washington’s strategic interests have undoubtedly shifted to the Gulf region.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated, with the US having failed in its attempt to mediate and both opponents, Sharon and Arafat, having lost their space for political maneuvering. Washington’s failure is all the more critical, as the USA depends on allies in the region, particularly from the Arab world, in its campaign against Iraq. And finally, the nuclear program North Korea has admittedly pursued, and the reaction of the Bush administration to it, pose a challenge which might weaken the credibility of US policy.

All of that, however, loses all its gloss, if we consider the resolve and determination of the USA to bring about a change of regime in Baghdad. To bring down Saddam Hussein has been the central aim of US foreign policy and its war plans which received unconditional support only from Great Britain. Washington realized, however, that destroying Iraqi weapons arsenals under international supervision would not be able to guarantee lasting security. Therefore, in case the UN failed to approve taking measures against Saddam Hussein, the US was determined to take action against the Iraqi regime even without a UN mandate.

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Eigentümer und Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung | Roßauer Lände 1, 1090 Wien
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