By Steven Donald Smith
WASHINGTON, Sep. 5, 2006 – President Bush today released his updated National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, which outlines the U.S. government's strategy to protect and defend American interests at home and abroad from terrorism. "The best way to protect America is to stay on the offense," Bush told an audience today at the Military Officers Association of America here. "Since 9/11 our coalition has captured or killed al Qaeda managers and operatives and scores of other terrorists across the world. The enemy is living under constant pressure, and we intend to keep it that way."
The strategy update emphasizes that the U.S. not only must fight terrorists on the battlefield, but also must promote freedom and human dignity to counter terrorists' vision of oppression and totalitarian rule. To win the war on terror, the United States will continue to lead a vast international effort to defeat violent extremists who threaten the U.S. and its allies, as well as create a global environment inhospitable to violent extremists and their supporters, the update states.
"When terrorists spend their days working to avoid death or capture, it's harder for them to plan and execute new attacks," Bush said. "By taking the battle to terrorists and their supporters on our own soil and across the world we've stopped another of al Qaeda plots." The updated strategy stresses the importance democracy will play in defeating terrorism in the long term. Effective democracies honor and uphold basic human rights, including freedom of religion, conscience, speech, assembly, association and press, the document states.
Democracy also gives people an ownership stake in society, offers the rule of law, the peaceful resolution of disputes, a marketplace of ideas to expose and discredit falsehoods, and offers a respect for human dignity and rejects the targeting of innocents, the strategy notes. To create the space and time for the long-term solution to terrorism to take root, the update outlines four priorities over the short term:
-- Prevent attacks by terrorist networks by working with partners across the globe;
-- Deny weapons of mass destruction to rogue states and terrorist allies who seek to use them;
-- Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states; and
-- Deny terrorists control of any area they would use as a base and launching pad for terror.
The strategy update notes that the United States is transforming its domestic and international institutions and partnerships to carry forward the fight against terror. The U.S. also is collaborating with its partners to update and tailor international obligations and standards of accountability to meet the evolving threat of terrorism. "(The United States is) building the capacity of foreign partners in all areas of counterterrorism activities," the update states. "Through the provision of training, equipment, and other assistance, the United States will enhance the ability of partners across the globe to attack and defeat terrorists."
Other long-term solutions laid out in the update include better interagency collaboration and fostering intellectual and human capital by creating an expert community of counterterrorism professionals.
The Bush administration already has done a great deal to meet this end, including the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, the position of director of national intelligence, and the National Counterterrorism Center, the update states.
The strategic update also points out the U.S. military is expanding its special operations forces, increasing the capabilities of the regular military force to conduct irregular warfare, and initiating the largest rearrangement of its force posture since World War II.
"In the 20th century, free nations confronted and defeated Nazi Germany. During the Cold War we confronted Soviet communism. And today Europe is whole, free and at peace," Bush said. "And now freedom is once again contending with the forces of darkness and tyranny."