Letters

Two types of preemptive US action

Regarding Daniel Schorr's Jan. 3 Opinion column "Preempting preemptive action": Mr. Schorr writes, "The Bush doctrine of preemptive action ... has faced its first test in North Korea, and seems to have flunked." Schorr refers to the doctrine first enunciated in President Bush's West Point speech in June 2002. The speech is being reshaped as the Bush doctrine of preemptive action.

The US must be ready for preemptive action, to defend liberty and life. But this simplification misses the totality of the president's speech, which highlighted the fact that "different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities." Mr. Bush went on to say the US will send diplomats and soldiers where needed. During the cold war, the US and the former Soviet Union stood on opposing sides, which further complicated and deepened the issues and divisions. But that is the strategy of a time passed.

Today, America needs partners to preserve peace; the US is better able to confront serious regional conflicts with a determined coalition. The Bush administration's strategy, from the Middle East to South Asia, is to gather broad international coalitions to increase the pressure for peace.

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By confronting North Korea, the Bush administration did not create a problem; it revealed a problem. And, in solving it, the US is building a coalition. I cannot agree with Schorr that, because we are not threatening North Korea at present, the Bush doctrine has flunked its first test. Since Sept. 11, the only path to safety is the Bush doctrine. And this nation will act - diplomatically where it can, and militarily where it must.
Lou Nevola
North Babylon, N.Y.

Regarding "Preempting preemptive action": Daniel Schorr, as usual, is right on. Why aren't other reporters and journalists covering the weaknesses, duplicity, and downright dangerousness of the Bush administration? Are those reporters being bought off, or do they lack insight, thinking skills, and courage? Perhaps Schorr can give me and thousands of Americans an answer.
Irma Sarata
Lincoln, Neb.

Daniel Schorr's failure to grasp the doctrine of preemption has led him to the incorrect conclusion that it has been tested, and that it has failed. The US has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to national security. To forestall or prevent hostile acts, the US will act preemptively when necessary.

The National Security Strategy of the US includes the following sentence on page 15: "The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression."

Schorr's assertion that Saddam Hussein welcomes inspectors is disingenuous. Intense pressure from the UN Security Council and a credible threat of force has induced President Hussein to comply with sanctions. The doctrine of preemption saw its finest hour in Hussein's neighborhood; it's ridiculous for Schorr to conclude that it is shelved because it isn't always employed.
David H. Gurney
Washington
Colonel, National Defense University

Your Dec. 30 headline, "For US, few reasons to delay war," grabbed my attention like few others. Who, if not the Monitor, will have the courage and integrity to confront the insidious movement toward war?

How many reasons are there to delay war? As many millions as there are civilians in the region who will die or suffer as a result of it - not to mention future generations and the natural environment. The US is addicted to force as a means to solve problems, and it thereby perpetuates the same problems.
Robert W. Bussewitz
Jamaica Plain, Mass.

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