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Did the QDR Leak Also Reveal Obama’s Forthcoming National Security Strategy?

It sure looks that way. As I mentioned in a previous post, Defense News got a leaked draft copy of the Quadrennial Defense Review, an important Pentagon planning document that will be officially unveiled next week. But reading down into its guts, the draft references a document that doesn’t even have a release date yet: the 2010 National Security Strategy, to be issued by the White House.

Recall that in 2002, President George W. Bush’s National Security Strategy centered around a declared right of the United States to “if necessary, act preemptively” against “rogue states and terrorists.” But the international legitimacy of preemption depends on the imminence of a threat — a foreign force coming to attack you. Bush considered that archaic, and sought to “adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries.” To many international-relations scholars, that collapsed the distinction between preemption and aggression, and its direct result was the invasion of Iraq, which turned out not to have the weapons of mass destruction Bush claimed as the justification for invading. The point is: these documents have real-world consequences.

So what will Obama’s National Security Strategy say? The document is still a work in progress, and it’s not clear if there’s a rollout date in mind. (Bush’s came out in September of his second year in office.) But the draft QDR is written as if it knows what the 2010 National Security Strategy will say. The relevant part of the leak concerns the definition of U.S. interests.

As outlined in the President’s 2010 National Security Strategy, America’s enduring interests are:

? The security and resiliency of the United States, its citizens and their way of life, and of U.S. allies and partners;

? A strong and competitive U.S. economy with a leading role in a vibrant and open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity

? Respect for values such as civil liberties, democracy, equality, dignity, justice, and the rule of law at home and around the world; and

? An international order underpinned by U.S. leadership and engagement that promotes peace, security, responsibility, and stronger cooperation to meet global challenges, including transnational threats.

Leveraging and strengthening multilateral institutions for positive-sum action. Human rights and human dignity. Prosperity in an open global economy. All of this used to promote and protect American security. None of this is really new. In fact, you can read a piece from me during the 2008 campaign that, if I say so myself, discusses a whole lot of it. Or you can listen to Jim Jones, the president’s national security adviser, say earlier this week that “the challenge of restoring the reputation of the United States as a nation willing to commit to leadership, willing to commit to a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect is probably the defining feature of our foreign policy.” That’s pretty much what the QDR draft claims the National Security Strategy says.

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