WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration is drafting a formal military policy that supports preemptive attacks against terrorists and hostile states with weapons of mass destruction, The Washington Post said in Monday editions.
The new strategic doctrine, which moves away from the Cold War era's policy of containment and deterrence, will be part of the administration's first "National Security Strategy" slated for release by this fall, the report said, quoting senior officials.
The Post cited one official as saying that the document will for the first time add "preemption" and "defensive intervention" as formal options for striking at hostile nations or groups that appear determined to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States.
President Bush spoke of where the United States was headed strategically in a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on June 1.
Bush told the graduates that future U.S. military leaders must be ready to launch a preemptive strike in the war on terrorism, warning of an unprecedented threat of chemical, biological or nuclear attack from "terrorists and tyrants."
Administration officials drafting the new policy said the United States has been forced to move beyond deterrence since Sept. 11 because of the threat posed by terrorist groups and hostile states supporting them, the Post reported.
"The nature of the enemy has changed; the nature of the threat has changed, and so the response has to change," said a senior official, noting that terrorists "have no territory to defend. ... It's not clear how one would deter an attack like we experienced."
Under the new doctrine, nuclear first strikes would be considered weapons of last resort, especially against biological weapons that can be best destroyed by sustained exposure to the high heat of a nuclear blast, Pentagon officials told the Post.