The National Security Strategy of the United States of America

In looking at these points, one can logically draw the conclusion that one of the positive implications of the 2006 National Security Strategy of the United States is the recognition of the Bush Administration that it cannot wage war against a powerful ideology all by itself. The NSS06 falls short of admitting that the War on Terror is not simply a war to be won by the United States against its enemies. It recognizes the need for international cooperation to fully combat the battle that is terrorism.

I deem this a positive implication simply because the financial burden of waging such a massive and dragging war will no longer be shouldered by American taxpayers but by the whole international community. Another positive implication of the new NSS06 is that the United States is actually leaning more towards voluntary cooperation rather than resorting to binding treatises. I say that this is a positive move because no nation should use power and influence to win the support of another nation.

In this case, the United States has most often been perceived as a bully in international law and that it always muscles itself in the negotiating table to get what it wants. Now that the NSS06 is clear on the voluntary cooperation of other nations, the United States can finally break free from this image. One other positive effect of this stance is seeing the real commitment of the allies to the cause being pursued by the United States. There have been cases where countries stay in a war simply because it has pledged to support a certain country by signing a particular treaty.

When countries sign in voluntarily to help a particular cause, it must be because they believe and are committed to the goal or the cause. Voluntarily joining a cause allows a country to assess how far they can go in the journey and how much they are willing to give. If, in the middle of the game –so to speak–, the country finds itself in a compromising situation, it can freely get out of the battle and focus on more pressing matters in the home front. Signing treaties will not allow a country off the hook so easily.

Once a country has pledged itself in the goal or the cause by signing a particular treaty, there is no backing out. It is my analysis that the concept of voluntary adherence tilts towards the positive side on this aspect. The fact that the NSS06 is geared towards producing actual results for the international community can also be seen in a positive light. There have been instances wherein the goals of the international community have not been reached because of bureaucracy and too much legislation.

Time has been wasted in many instances by drafting the right treaty when all we are looking for are concrete results. The case of September 11 shows that legislations cannot completely assure the security and safety of a nation. Hence, as in daily life, the cliche that action speaks louder than words is also very much true for international law. It also worth pointing out that the NSS06 is not very different from its 2002 predecessor in the sense that the two security strategies put a lot of emphasis on cooperation in the prevention of terrorism.

Like its predecessor, NSS06 also mentions that the US is ready to take a pre-emptive stance against any imminent threat to its security. This stance is not new in international law. In fact, Christine Gray, in her paper entitled “The US National Security Strategy and the New "Bush Doctrine" on Preemptive Self-Defense”, noted that international law do recognize the fact that states or nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against force that  present an imminent danger of attack (Gray, 2002).

I believe this stance also poses some negative implications on the United States upon closer scrutiny. Gray said that one major question that should be raised on this particular aspect is this: How far, if at all, is the US willing to accept the application of these new doctrines on the use of force by other states. Studying history will allow one to see that the United States is prone to establishing double-standard rules. Gray notes that the US warns that nations should not "use preemption as a pretext for aggression".

When others have sought to use force against terrorists in another state, accusing that state of harboring or failing to act against the terrorists, the US has not been encouraging. Gray was correct in saying that the uncertainties at its heart increase the doubts as to the legality of the radical new doctrine; its impact will depend on the reaction of the rest of the world and to date other states have proved distinctly cautious. The Security Strategy provisions on preemptive action may yet prove more a rhetorical device designed to put pressure on Iraq than a serious attempt to rewrite international law on self-defense.

I also am of the opinion that partnerships that rely on voluntary adherence rather than binding treaties have its disadvantages too. While it is true that the absence of treaties will reveal the true commitment of allies, signing of treaties will likewise ensure the support of countries to the cause till the end –no matter the cost. As earlier noted, voluntary adherence may result to countries pulling out before the results are achieved. This attitude may put the entire project at great risk and will definitely cause more harm than good.