Pentagon reportedly sees U.S. role as ensuring that no new superpower arises

March 08, 1992|By Patrick E. Tyler | Patrick E. Tyler,New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting stage, the Defense Department asserts that the political and military mission for the United States in the post-Cold-War era will be to insure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia, or the territory of the former Soviet Union.

A 46-page document that has been circulating at the highest levels of the Pentagon for weeks, states that part of the U.S. mission will be "convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests."

The document now is classified. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney is expected to release it later this month.

The document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging U.S. primacy.

To perpetuate this role, the United States "must sufficiently account for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order," the document states.

With its focus on this concept of benevolent domination by one power, the Pentagon document articulates the clearest rejection date of collective internationalism, the strategy that emerged from World War II when the five victorious powers sought to form a United Nations that could mediate disputes and police outbreaks of violence.

The document was provided to the New York Times by an official who believes this post-Cold-War strategy debate should be carried out in the public domain.

Together with its attachments on force levels required to insure the United States' predominant role, the policy draft is a detailed justification for the Bush administration's "base force" proposal to support a 1.6 million-man military over the next five years, at a cost of about $1.2 trillion. Many Democrats in Congress have criticized the proposal as unnecessarily expensive.

Implicitly, the document foresees building a world security arrangement that pre-empts Germany and Japan from pursuing a course of substantial rearmament, especially nuclear armament, in the future.

In its opening paragraph, the policy document heralds the "less visible" victory at the end of the Cold War, which it defines as "the integration of Germany and Japan into a U.S.-led system of collective security and the creation of a democratic 'zone of peace.' "

The continuation of this strategic goal explains the strong emphasis elsewhere in the document and in other Pentagon planning on using military force, if necessary, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in such countries as North Korea, Iraq, some of the successor republics to the Soviet Union, and in Europe.

Nuclear proliferation, if unchecked by superpower action, could tempt Germany, Japan and other industrial powers to acquire nuclear weapons to deter attack from regional foes.

This could start them down the road to global competition with the United States.

The document is conspicuously devoid of references to collective action through the United Nations, which provided the mandate for the allied assault on Iraqi forces in Kuwait.

What is most important, it says, is "the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S.," and "the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated" or in a crisis that demands quick response.

The new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders "must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

The document is known in Pentagon parlance as the Defense Planning Guidance, an internal administration policy statement that is distributed to military leaders and civilian Defense Department heads to instruct them on how to prepare their forces, budgets, and strategy for the remainder of the decade.

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