Tuesday, January 24, 2006

President Bush's Foreign Policy Speech

In case you missed it, President Bush offered a major foreign policy speech yesterday that, among other things, outlined his strategy for the war on terror. It is a long speech that discusses numerous foreign policy issues, but a key component was his summary of the strategy to defeat terrorism: (1) choke off the funding; (2) challenge states that harbor terrorists; and (3) confront threats before they cause harm.

It is, of course, the third prong of his strategy that was a key factor in his decision to invade Iraq, and this third prong will continue to be controversial in the coming years as we face the specter of a nuclear Iran. There will continue to be threats that do not pose imminent harm--such that traditional international law self-defense justifications are triggered--but nonetheless present grave threats to national security.

With news that China and Russia are presently unwilling to even recommend the question of Iran's nuclear development for referral to the Security Council, we are poised in the coming year for another international crisis without Security Council supervision. The United States and the EU3 (Britain, France, and Germany) may be forced to address the question of Iran in a most unfortunate international legal posture: neither Security Council guidance nor traditional self-defense justifications.

Here is an excerpt of President Bush's speech, including his strategy on terrorism and his response to a question about Iran:
You can't run your network without money, and so we're working with our friends and allies to seize terrorist assets and choke off their funding sources. In other words, what I'm telling you is, we're using all assets at our disposal to protect you in a different kind of war. In order to make the right decision about how to win this war, it's important to understand the nature of the enemy and to take the enemy's word seriously and to understand their lethality and not let the kind of lull in the action lull us to sleep.

Secondly, right after they attacked us, I laid out a doctrine, and it said, if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorists. The reason I said that is because I understand that a terrorist network can sometimes burrow in society and can sometimes find safe haven from which to plot and plan. The perfect example of that was Afghanistan. For those of you who didn't pay much attention to the initial stages of this war, it became apparent to the world that Afghanistan became a safe haven. You'll hear stories about people that went into Afghanistan to be trained -- trained as to how to brutally kill people, trained in different methodologies, trained in how to communicate. So in other words, the enemy was able to burrow in, and felt safe and confident and secure. And I understood in this different kind of war that we had to make it clear to any country that if they harbored a terrorist, they would be held to account.... The doctrine still stands: If you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorists who commit murder.

Thirdly --and this is very important for the students to understand, and others -- because oceans no longer protect us, the United States of America must confront threats before they cause us harm. In other words, in the old days we could see a threat and say, well, maybe it will cause harm, maybe it won't. Those days changed, as far as I'm concerned. Threats must be taken seriously now, because geography doesn't protect us and there's an enemy that still lurks.

***

I'm deeply concerned about Iran... I'm concerned, when ...their president announces his desire to see that Israel gets destroyed. Israel is our ally. We're committed to the safety of Israel, and it's a commitment we will keep....

I'm concerned about a non-transparent society's desire to develop a nuclear weapon. The world cannot be put in a position where we can be blackmailed by a nuclear weapon. I believe it is very important for the Iranian government to hear loud and clear from not only the United States, but also from other nations around the world. I also want the Iranian people to hear loud and clear, and that is, we have no beef with you. We are worried about a government that is not transparent whose aims and objectives are not peaceful. And, therefore, we don't think that you should have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon.

The diplomatic strategy is being led right now by what's called the EU3 -- France, Germany and Great Britain -- and they're doing a good job of keeping together a common message to say to the Iranians that we expect you to adhere to international norm. The next logical step if the Iranians continue not to adhere to international norm or the demands of the free world is to go to the United Nations Security Council.

At the same time, the development of an Iraqi democracy is an important message to people inside of Iran. I told you what I believe. I believe everybody desires to be free. I believe women want to be treated equally. And I think that a message of democracy and freedom in that part of the world will embolden reformers. But this is a serious issue.

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