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Preemptive Strikes Authorized? Let’s Hope There Is Resolve Behind the Policy

Good news comes from the Washington Post on December 11. “Preemptive Strikes Part of Strategy, Official Say ‘All Options’ Open for Countering Unconventional Arms”:

A Bush administration strategy announced yesterday calls for the preemptive use of military and covert force before an enemy unleashes weapons of mass destruction, and underscores the United States’s willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons for chemical or biological attacks on U.S. soil or against American troops overseas.

The strategy introduces a more aggressive approach to combating weapons of mass destruction, and it comes as the nation prepares for a possible war with Iraq.

A version of the strategy that was released by the White House said the United States will “respond with overwhelming force,” including “all options,” to the use of biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapons on the nation, its troops or its allies.

However, a classified version of the strategy goes even further: It breaks with 50 years of U.S. counterproliferation efforts by authorizing preemptive strikes on states and terrorist groups that are close to acquiring weapons of mass destruction or the long-range missiles capable of delivering them. The policy aims to prevent the transfer of weapons components or to destroy them before they can be assembled.

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