October 29, 2008
New York Times

Gates Gives Rationale for Expanded Deterrence

by Thom Shanker

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Tuesday that the United States would hold "fully accountable" any country or group that helped terrorists to acquire or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The statement was the Bush administration's most expansive yet in trying to articulate a vision of deterrence for the post-Sept. 11 world. It went beyond the cold war notion that a president could respond with overwhelming force against a country that directly attacked the United States or its allies with unconventional weapons.

"Today we also make clear that the United States will hold any state, terrorist group or other nonstate actor or individual fully accountable for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction - whether by facilitating, financing or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts," Mr. Gates said.

The comments came in an address in which he said it was important to modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal as a hedge against what he described as "rising and resurgent powers" like Russia or China, as well as "rogue nations" like Iran or North Korea and international terrorists.

By declaring that those who facilitated a terrorist attack would be held "fully accountable," Mr. Gates left the door open to diplomatic and economic responses as well as military ones. And, to be sure, the United States has acted forcefully before against those who sheltered terrorists, with the invasion of Afghanistan to oust Al Qaeda and its Taliban government supporters after the attacks of Sept. 11.

His speech here before the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was the latest signal that the administration was moving in its closing months to embrace more far-reaching notions of deterrence and self-defense. . . .


Enver Masud, "Iraq War: 'Supreme International Crime'," The Wisdom Fund, June 29, 2005

[The United States has offered similar justifications for recent cross-border strikes in Pakistan, where it has launched missile attacks and at least one air assault against suspected members of Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency.--Ann Scott Tyson and Ellen Knickmeyer, "U.S. Calls Raid a Warning to Syria," Washington Post, October 28, 2008]

[There is at least one big problem, however, with Bush's interpretation of "the law": In Iraq Bush is the aggressor - the attacker - not the defender. Iraq is the defender. Therefore, as the attacker Bush is precluded from claiming self-defense when the defender attempts to defend itself.--Jacob G. Hornberger, "What About Syria's and Pakistan's Sovereignty?,", October 28, 2008]

[Like the original Bush doctrine -- the one that Sarah Palin couldn't name, which called for preventive military action against emerging threats -- this one also casts international law aside by insisting that the United States has an inherent right to cross international borders in "hot pursuit" of anyone it doesn't like.--Robert Dreyfuss, "The End of International Law?," Nation, October 28, 2008]

Sami Moubayed, "US's Syrian raid sets Iraq on fire," Asia Times, November 1, 2008

Marie Colvin and Uzi Mahnaimi, "Questions raised over Syrian complicity in US raid: Syria has denounced a US strike on its territory but sources say Damascus secretly backed the raid," Sunday Times, November 2, 2008

[Pakistan is publicly complaining about US air strikes. But the country's new chief of intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, visited Washington last week for talks with America's top military and spy chiefs, and everyone seemed to come away smiling.--David Ignatius, "Pakistan's Secret Cooperation with America," Daily Star, November 5, 2008]

Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti, "Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda in Many Countries," New York Times, November 10, 2008

Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick, "Pakistan and U.S. Have Tacit Deal On Airstrikes," Washington Post, November 16, 2008

[The country even goes as far as hosting CIA agents in Pakistani army compounds in the tribal area, who call in the strikes.--Saeed Shah, "Deadly pilotless aircraft that have helped fuel anti-American feeling in tribal belt," Guardian, November 24, 2008]

[Missiles fired from suspected US drones killed at least 15 people inside Pakistan today, the first such strikes since Barack Obama became president and a clear sign that the controversial military policy begun by George W Bush has not changed.--Tim Reid, "President Obama 'orders Pakistan drone attacks'," Times Online, January 23, 2009]

["Even the legal basis for the targeted killing policy in Pakistan is shrouded in secrecy. Is the CIA operating under the laws of war or some other law? Under the laws of war, only organized armed forces can kill during hostilities; civilian agencies like the CIA cannot. Who reviews CIA target selection and on what criteria?"--"Use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan: deadly, but legal?,", August 12, 2009]

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