The 2002 National Security Strategy of the US (NSS 2002) appeared to have presented\ud a momentous approach to self-defense. To many, the doctrine of preemptive selfdefense\ud seemed to challenge the legal and political foundations of the post-World War\ud II international order. Some saw in the US stated reliance on preemption a direct threat\ud to the international system embodied in the UN Charter. The prima facie case that the\ud US position was novel and even dangerous appeared persuasive.\ud This thesis attempts to assess the exceptionality of NSS 2002 in its formulation and\ud implications. This question of exceptionality is broadly divided into two sections. The\ud first section deals with internal exceptionality, in terms of means (the deliberation and\ud drafting processes) and ends (the US defense posture). The second section deals with\ud external exceptionality in the broader terms of possible consequences outside the US.\ud Section One begins by establishing the grounds for looking into the formulation of NSS\ud 2002, and provides the background for that Strategy's mandated precursors. After\ud exploring how National Security Strategy documents are conceived and framed, Section\ud One discusses the Strategy as it was published, and examines a sampling of\ud contemporaneous reactions to its publication. Section Two concentrates on the second\ud part of the research question, and utilizes a thematic approach ¿ in terms of the use of\ud force, the international security environment, and international law. Possible\ud consequences of the proposed US response to contemporary security challenges are\ud considered in these three key areas
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