ON JULY 16, President Bush belatedly revealed his homeland security strategy. This is certainly an important step in the right direction, though it does leave many unanswered questions - for example, how much will it cost, and how much will the private sector and state and local governments be expected to pay?
But the Bush administration has not yet completed a much more comprehensive and important document, the National Security Strategy report. Without this report, it is difficult, if not impossible, to make a rational decision about whether the homeland security strategy or many other government programs designed to protect our security make any sense.
This National Security Strategy report, which should have been sent to Congress within five months of Bush's inauguration and which must be updated annually, is required by Section 404A, Chapter 15, Title 10 of the US Code. But apart from the legal requirement, this document calls for the president's justification of the ends and means of US foreign policy.
In the strategy report, Bush must present his vision along four interrelated dimensions: America's worldwide goals and objectives; America's worldwide commitments and the national defense capabilities required to deter aggressors and implement the national strategy; the proposed short-term and long-term uses of the various elements of national power to achieve his specific goals and objectives in a balanced manner; and the ability of the government to carry out his goals and objectives.
Because we have not been presented with this presidential vision and assessment, the Congress and the country are being asked to put the cart before the horse. In the absence of this national security report, how can we have a rational and informed debate about all the controversial foreign policy decisions that Bush is making?
How, in the absence of the report, can we judge whether this country should be more concerned about a terrorist smuggling in a weapon of mass destruction in a cargo container as opposed to launching a ballistic missile? Yet the president is asking us to spend more on ballistic missile defense than the Coast Guard.
What are the real threats to the US homeland? After the attacks of Sept. 11, the president said we were waging a campaign against terrorists with a global reach.
In late 2001, it became a war against terrorism, and in his State of the Union Address, the president expanded the mission to a war against evil. The National Security Strategy report would at least help us answer the question of whether this goal is vital to our national security and whether we have the capabilities to achieve such a grand objective.
How can we decide whether the president is correct when he argues, as he did in his commencement speech at West Point on June 1, that the strategies of containment and deterrence are irrelevant in today's world and the United States must instead rely on preemption? How does the new doctrine fit into the proposed short and long term uses of the various elements of national power to protect and promote US interests?
Finally, how can we judge whether the new defense planning guidance for the 2004-09 period will move the military in the right direction? Among other things, this plan would have the Pentagon emphasize the development of a new nuclear bunker-buster bomb, in apparent violation of agreements like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It also proposes a radical and risky transformation of the US military, which is the best in the world. How will this help us fulfill our global commitments?
The president would like the Congress and the American people to accept these changes in doctrine, policy, and tactics without a debate. By reminding him to obey the law and submit the National Security Report we can ensure that it does not happen.
Lawrence Korb, vice president and director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration.