Preemption 2.0. From this morning’s gaggle …
Question: Is the President’s commitment to diplomacy in North Korea at odds with his policy of preemption?
MR. SNOW: No. You’ve got to understand that you preempt when you have concerns about an imminent strike and you also have — this is an administration that’s been engaged in diplomacy on this. I know there’s been a lot of reporting in recent days as if George W. Bush just woke up one day and decided to try diplomacy, and it doesn’t work that way at all. As a matter of fact, the administration has been working on the North Korea problem in a multilateral manner for a number of years; the same thing with Iran. You also go back to the military engagements — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and those were also multilateral. So it is nothing new for this President to try to enlist the aid and support of other nations.
He’s also made it clear that you do what is appropriate for various circumstances. And what is appropriate in the case of North Korea, and in the case of Iran is to use diplomacy as vigorously as possible in hopes of trying to get both nations to engage in behavior that not only is going to be good for their citizens, but also good for the international community.
Question: You haven’t been around here long, but are you saying there’s no more policy of preemption?
MR. SNOW: No, I’m not saying that at all. But I’m also saying that there’s —
Question: Well, you weren’t here in the beginning when it was really was the policy.
MR. SNOW: Helen, there was also diplomatic activity going on. Preemption was used in Iraq. and furthermore, in Afghanistan. It was not used as preemption —
Question: It was laid down as our policy and strategy.
MR. SNOW: It was laid down as a strategy, but you also — preemption also can be a diplomatic strategy. What you try to do, for instance, in the case of North Korea, is to preempt activity.
Question: Not much.
MR. SNOW: Well, Secretary of State Thomas has weighed in. (Laughter.) Now, the fact is that you can use diplomacy as a way of preempting bad behavior, and which you can also use as carrots and sticks.
I hear it got even better at the briefing.