April 4, 2003
For the first time, the United States has developed a national strategy to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration calls for a tripartite approach: proactive counterproliferation, strengthened nonproliferation, and effective consequence management. In so doing, it has altered fundamentally the traditional, largely diplomatically- and economically-oriented U.S. approach to curbing WMD proliferation. Why? The world has moved fundamentally beyond five nuclear (and few chemical and biological) weapons states; and, in the present international security environment, the prospect cannot be discounted that WMD may be used against U.S. forward-deployed forces, U.S. or allied interests abroad, or U.S. or allied homelands. In this context, the United States must move beyond traditional nonproliferation approaches toward a comprehensive counterproliferation strategy. Effectively translating this strategy into practice must surely remain the central thrust of the Bush Administration for the duration of the President's tenure of office. Indeed, given the scope of the challenge and the importance of the tasks at hand, these are likely to remain front-and-center in U.S. national security policy for the foreseeable future.
Dr. Jason D. Ellis is a Senior Research Professor with the Center for Counterproliferation Research, National Defense University, and is on the faculty of the National War College. Dr. Ellis was previously a Senior Analyst with the Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (chaired by John Deutch and Sen. Arlen Specter), a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, and a faculty member of the School of International Service, American University. He has published widely on American defense and foreign policy and is author, most recently, of Defense by Other Means: The Politics of Threat Reduction and Nuclear Security Cooperation (Praeger, 2001). His next book, Combating Proliferation: Strategic Intelligence and National Policy, will be published later this year.