Obama dumps Bush anti-terror plan

President Barack Obama uveiled a new national security strategy on Thursday, replacing George W. Bush’s “war on terror” doctrine with a sweeping blueprint for a world bristling with multiple threats. Mr Obama also put new constraints on the former president’s concept of pre-emptive war and cited national security implications of economic meltdowns, global warming, cyberwarfare, nuclear proliferation and ethnic conflict.

“To succeed, we must face the world as it is,” the document states, turning the page on Bush-era dreams of remaking the global order with American might and recognizing the increasing global engagement of Russia and the emergence of rising powers like China and India. The document also contains warnings for Iran and North Korea, focuses on homegrown extremists who turn to Islamic radicalism in America and says the most serious threats to Americans are posed by nuclear proliferation. The new doctrine illustrates an evolution of Obama’s pro-engagement policies after 16 months in power, a period that brought the idealism of his election campaign into conflict with the harsh realities of geopolitics. It describes a world thick with evolving threats and seeks to reframe US foreign policy after two bloody wars and a crippling global financial crisis.

It projects a tough, hardnosed assessment of American interests and the use of US power, and lays out a dizzying array of threats from cyberwarfare to health epidemics to ethnic wars to inequality. Obama commits to using the sweeping range of foreign policy tools, including diplomacy, economic renewal, development aid, military might and education. It calls for tough engagement “without illusion” with foes like Iran and North Korea, but warns they face deepening isolation if they do not bow to pressure to throw open their nuclear programmes. The document also preserves the US right to launch unilateral military action, but does so in more restrictive terms than those used by the former Bush administration.

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