Obama's New National Security Strategy Abandons Bush's Unilateralism

President Obama's new national security strategy stresses the importance of a cooperative international response to global conflicts and moves away from the Bush administration doctrine of striking preemptively and acting alone if deemed necessary to protect the country.

Obama's emphasis on exhausting diplomacy first was reflected in his decision to have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton roll out the security strategy on Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"One of our goals coming into the administration was ... to begin to make the case that defense, diplomacy and development were not separate entities," Clinton said. "Indeed they had to be viewed as part of an integrated whole."

The new strategy document released by the White House on Thursday argues national security begins with changes at home. It calls for economic recovery, a commitment to education, clean energy, advancements in science and technology, and a reduced federal deficit.

"Simply put, we must see American innovation as a foundation of American power," Obama wrote in the preface. The document puts intense focus on using diplomacy.

"While the use of force is sometimes necessary, we will exhaust other options before war whenever we can and carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs of risks of inaction," the document reads.

The strategy includes some curve balls as well. For instance, its stance on global climate change as it relates to national security: "Climate change and pandemic disease threaten the security of regions and the health and safety of the American people," it says.

On Thursday Gen. Jim Jones, the president's national security adviser, called climate change a "core national security interest." In all, the words "climate change" were used 24 times in Obama's 60-page national security strategy.

The new security approach stands in stark contrast to the strategy released by President George W. Bush in September of 2002. That document was perceived by many to pave the way for the invasion of Iraq the year after it was released.

"We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by ... identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders," that report read. "While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country."

The Obama document does not rule out acting preemptively, but it does not specifically address the issue.

The new strategy repeatedly mentioned the threat of homegrown terrorism, but it strikes a different tone on the broader issue of terrorism overseas.

Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he called jihad a "legitimate tenet of Islam," arguing that the term "jihadists" should not be used to describe America's enemies.

"As Americans we refuse to live in fear, nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or 'Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children," Brennan said.

Obama's strategy refers to Al Qaeda and its affiliates as the enemy, rather than terrorism and terrorists. Terror, administration officials say, is a state of mind and a tactic, not an enemy.

The Bush administration repeatedly referred the war against terror in its strategy. Obama has dropped the term.