The 2010 United States National Security Strategy and the Obama Doctrine of ‘Necessary Force’
AbstractOn 27 May 2010 President Barack Obama released his administration’s first National Security Strategy. After the controversial nature of his predecessor’s Strategies of 2002 and 2006 where the Bush doctrine of self-defence was advanced, President Obama’s was a notable publication. However, as this article argues, of more significance was the formal enunciation in this document of what is described here as the Obama doctrine of ‘necessary force’. Whilst the two arms of the Bush doctrine, that is, pre-emptive self-defence and the ‘harbouring’ standard of attribution, failed to find a place within the jus ad bellum during the Bush presidency, President Obama has apparently continued to endorse them. Furthermore, the doctrine of ‘necessary force’ has incorporated unilateral forcible humanitarian intervention under what appears to be a revised version of the ‘just war’ doctrine. Indeed, whilst invoking the ‘standards’ governing the resort to force and the concepts of ‘necessity’ and ‘last resort’, the Obama doctrine, this article argues, is more vague and open to unilateral possibilities than the Bush doctrine and ultimately cannot be reconciled with the contemporary limits imposed by the jus ad bellum . Furthermore, it invokes 21st century security threats in a rejection of the contemporary regime regulating the use of force.