Remarks on the President's National Security Strategy
United States Institute of Peace
March 16, 2006
Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor
(Released by The White House Office of the Press Secretary)
The National Security Strategy -- 2006
I want to begin by thanking the Institute for your hard work, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your support of those drafting the Afghan constitution has helped create a society rooted in the rule of law that respects the rights of all Afghans. Your work in Iraq is bringing different Iraqi groups together to discuss their common future. The Institute is making a difference, bringing the hope of peace and freedom to both countries. And we are very grateful for that work.
Today, we released the President's National Security Strategy, which explains the strategic underpinning of his foreign policy. As the President has said, America's policy -- and its purpose -- is to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
The National Security Strategy lays out the President's vision of how to achieve this goal -- and today I want to draw your attention to five important themes in the strategy. First, America must be strong and secure. We are at war, and defeating the terrorists is America's most immediate challenge. Second, our strategy is to defeat -- our strategy to defeat the terrorists must include a strategy to defeat their hateful ideology. We do this by promoting a positive vision -- the promise of freedom and democracy. Third, freedom and democracy are more than just a means to an end. Our nation has long promoted freedom as the birthright of every human being. We champion effective democracy as the best way for nations to secure the freedom of their citizens, as well as their prosperity and security. Fourth, security and effective democracy can enable the pursuit of a smart development strategy that can improve the lives of people everywhere. Fifth, a community of effective democracies can best address the regional and global challenges of our time.
The President's strategy begins with the recognition that America is at war. Protecting the American people remains the first duty of the President of the United States. The President's strategy renews his commitment to maintain an American military without peer that can dissuade, deter, and defeat a wide variety of potential threats.
The President continues to mobilize all elements of America's national power to defeat the terrorist threat. To do that, he believes we must stay on the offense: We must defeat the terrorists abroad so we do not need to face them here at home. The strategy reaffirms the doctrine the President has set forth so clearly, that America makes no distinction between the terrorists, and the countries that harbor them. And the President believes that we must remember the clearest lesson of September 11th -- that the United States of America must confront threats before they fully materialize.
The President's strategy affirms that the doctrine of preemption remains sound and must remain an integral part of our National Security Strategy. If necessary," the strategy states, "...under longstanding principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. Terrorist attacks in London, Madrid, Amman, Samarra, Bali, Riyadh and many other cities since September 11th are grim reminders of just how lethal and determined the terrorists remain.
At the same time, the United States, with its partners and allies, is making progress in the war on terror. From the terrorists' point of view, they have lost their home base in Afghanistan, many of their leaders are dead or in custody, countries that once allowed them free rein are now moving against them, their efforts to divide their opponents have largely failed and the terrorists' strategy of attacking innocent Muslims is beginning to backfire and expose them for what they are: enemies of all humanity with no respect for human life and dignity.
Two weeks ago I was with the President in Kabul, and we witnessed the enormous transformation that has taken place in Afghanistan. Before September 11th, 2001, Afghanistan was ruled by a cruel regime that oppressed its people, brutalized women, and gave safe haven to the terrorists who attacked America. Today, the terror camps have been shut down, women are free to work if they choose, boys and girls are back in school -- and 25 million people now enjoy freedom.
This week will mark the three-year anniversary of the liberation of Iraq. In that time, the Iraqi people have gone from suffering under a brutal tyrant to liberation, to sovereignty, to free elections, to a constitutional referendum, and, last December, to elections for a fully constitutional government. In those December elections, over 11 million Iraqis -- more than 75 percent of the Iraqi voting age population -- defied the terrorists to cast their ballots.
Yet in recent weeks our memories of purple-ink-stained fingers have been replaced by images of events much more violent -- a ruined house of worship, mass protests in response to provocation, reprisal attacks by armed militias, and sectarian violence that has taken the lives of hundreds of Iraqi citizens.
The sectarian tensions that are fueling this violence were exacerbated for many years by Saddam Hussein's tyranny. Saddam ruled through brutal suppression of dissent, through murder and genocide, and his Iraq became a nation of deeply repressed sectarian divides. It should surprise no one that freedom has allowed the expression of sectarian identity, and the surfacing of sectarian grievances. And it should surprise no one that terrorists like Zarqawi would seek to exploit these divisions.
But freedom and democracy have also empowered and legitimized leaders who exerted their influence over the last two weeks to dampen the violence and draw their nation back from the brink of sectarian warfare. As the President said, the Iraqi people "looked into the abyss and did not like what they saw." The vast majority of the Iraqi people clearly do not want civil war. They do not want sectarian violence to rob all Iraqis of the hope of a common future. And their elected leaders are doing the difficult work of binding the nation together and forming a national unity government.
That work goes on as we speak. Before coming here I spoke with Ambassador Khalilzad, as I do every couple days, for a status report. The leaders of all the various parties and factions are in Baghdad; they are meeting daily to form a unity government. They announced to the Iraqi people two days ago that they would seek to do that by the end of the month. They are working on a structure of government, the personnel to go in position, and a common program that can bind the government and the country together.
The process is going forward. The legislative assembly met today -- that meeting went well -- and the leaders group is resuming their discussions tomorrow. We are supporting that effort strongly. The government that emerges will be an Iraqi government. But we and the Iraqi leaders agreed that the next step for Iraq needs to be a unity government, and needs to be a unity government soon.
Violence remains a challenge in Iraq, and it remains a challenge in Afghanistan. But this challenge is being met by leaders, empowered by the ballot, who offer their people a new hope rooted in freedom and democracy.
The President's strategy recognizes that the global war on terror is both a battle of arms and a battle of ideas. In the battle of ideas, freedom and democracy directly counter the ideology of the terrorists. The terrorists exploit feelings of alienation, while freedom and democracy offer a stake in society, and a chance to shape one's own future. The terrorists exploit historical grievances, while freedom and democracy offer institutions that promote peaceful resolution of disputes. The terrorists exploit misinformation, prejudices, and propaganda, while freedom and democracy offer independent media and the marketplace of ideas. And while the terrorists exploit a religion to justify murder, freedom and democracy offer respect for human dignity and rejection of the deliberate destruction of innocent lives.
For the vast majority of Afghans and Iraqis, the choice between these two visions is clear, and they have chosen democracy. Yet freedom and democracy are not merely means to an end in the war on terror; they are noble purposes our nation promotes because of our history and our founding principles.
The President expressed this calling most clearly in his second inaugural address. He said, "America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this Earth has rights and dignity and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of heaven and Earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time."
Human freedom and human rights are released by the defeat of tyranny, but they are secured by the creation of effective democracies. Effective democracies play a central role in American foreign policy, because they are our natural allies and the anchors of stability in the international system. We seek to help newly free nations build effective democracies, and to partner with effective democracies to address global challenges.
Effective democracies uphold basic human rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. Effective democracies submit to the will of the people, especially when the people vote to change their government. Effective democracies exercise sovereignty, maintain order, and establish the rule of law within their own borders -- and fight corruption. Effective democracies protect institutions of civil society such as the family, religious communities, voluntary associations, private property and independent businesses. And effective democracies foster a vibrant civic culture that limits the power of the state through an independent media, opposition political parties, and a system of institutional checks and balances.
The President's strategy recognizes that the journey to effective democracy is long, and it highlights practical ways America supports countries as they make this journey. While free elections are the most visible sign of a free society, they are only the start of the process. Time and patience are required to build the institutions and practices of effective democracy. But free elections can be catalysts for change, by building popular demand for the other democratic institutions necessary to sustain freedom. Some have argued that holding elections before these institutions are in place is premature. But we know that tyrannies are generally poor incubators of free institutions. Generally, it is elected leaders who have the legitimacy to lead a nation -- with the sustained support of other effective democracies -- along the path of democratic success.
As nations find their way in building the institutions of effective democracy, they create opportunities for their people to prosper and build better lives. Creating global prosperity is another vital element of the President's National Security Strategy. The President recognizes that economic freedom and political freedom cannot be long separated. As people experience the freedom to buy, to sell, and to produce, it is only a matter of time until they will demand the freedom to assemble, to speak, and to worship.
For developing nations, the President has promoted economic freedom through an innovative global development strategy, the Millennium Challenge Account program. The President believes that each nation bears the responsibility for its own development, and that success will go to those nations that govern justly, fight corruption, invest in the health and education of their people, and are open to the power of free markets and free trade to lift people out of poverty. Nations that make these choices deserve the active support of the developed world.
The Millennium Challenge Account program is only part of the President's development strategy. He continues to support reducing debt burdens that cripple many nations in the developing world, and opening access to private capital markets. He recognizes the importance of the international private sector in development, as well as a nation's own entrepreneurs. He believes in the dignity of every human life and, therefore, has led unprecedented efforts to address deadly diseases such as AIDS and malaria. Together, these initiatives are creating an alternative to the failed model of corruption and permanent dependency that has been so prevalent in the past.
The President's strategy promotes economic freedom on a global scale, through a free trade agenda to foster prosperity among both developing and developed nations. The President supports open markets, a stable financial system, and the integration of the global economy -- because each of these helps create better lives for all people and a more secure world. The President's free trade agenda includes ambitious proposals put forward in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations of the World Trade Organization. Lowering trade barriers worldwide in agriculture, manufacturing, and services is the best opportunity in a generation to lift millions of people out of poverty and enhance economic opportunity for all people.
Effective democracies provide stability, accountability, and opportunity for their people. Mobilizing effective democracies is also the best hope for addressing the serious challenges we face in our world.
And the challenges we face are enormous. We face public health challenges such as AIDS and avian flu. We face environmental challenges, some of which have been created by human beings, some of which have destroyed human beings through horrific natural disasters. We face energy challenges caused by dependence on old fuels and old technologies. We face the challenges of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We face the challenges of the global drug trade, organized crime, and the detestable trade of human beings for sex and for slavery.
We face the challenge of oppression and violations of basic human rights. The President is personally offended by the profound oppression and suffering in Darfur, Sudan, as well as in Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Iran, Belarus, and other countries. Oppression occurs often on a massive scale, often as a tool of government control. The perpetrators of these horrors brazenly proclaim their indifference to human rights standards
-- so we in the international community must be equally bold in condemning their outrageous conduct.
Effective democracies can improve human rights, address other global challenges, and create a better world -- if we all work together. The President's strategy highlights ways in which effective democracies can cooperate for the greater good. But we must think differently and organize ourselves more creatively if we are to be effective.
The President believes that new international partnerships and arrangements among willing nations offer the possibility of quick and measurable results. The Proliferation Security Initiative, for example, has no governing council, no executive secretariat -- but it has created a community of nations voluntarily committed to acting together to keep dangerous weapons from rogue states and terrorist groups. The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Development and Climate is a group of states working to enhance energy security, reduce poverty, and lower pollution levels through accelerated development of clean technologies. The ad hoc Core Group led multinational efforts to respond to the devastating tsunami of 2004, and filled a critical gap until more traditional relief organizations could begin operations.
The President values these partnerships and arrangements, and his strategy anticipates replicating these and other innovative models to address future challenges. Measurable outcomes, not endless process, should define our international partnerships going forward.
I've only mentioned some of the principal elements of the President's National Security Strategy. But all of the President's foreign policy initiatives are united by his conviction that we are living in a moment of choosing, for our nation and for the world. America can choose a path of fear, leading to isolationism and protectionism, or a path of confidence, leading to international engagement and the expansion of freedom and democracy.
The President's National Security Strategy charts the way forward along the path of confidence. It is a strategy of leadership. It is a strategy of partnership. It is a strategy that protects America's vital interests, reflects America's history, and promotes America's highest ideals.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)