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The case for preemptive action
Posted by: mcq on Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An editorial in Investors Business Daily declares:
President Bush's critics aren't happy with a new National Security Strategy document that reemphasizes the doctrine of pre-emption. Neither, for that matter, are our enemies. And that's the whole point.
Yes, it is the whole point. And in a world which is seeing more and more countries pursuing WMDs, it's a threat which must be kept viable. To have the means to thwart an enemy - an enemy with the means and the motive to attack you - and to refuse to do so out of some sort of unwritten international code of honor is to unnecessarily put your population at risk. That is a way of doing business which is no longer viable.

Not in the era of WMDs. But in a broader sense, and with the benefit of hindsight, it's not something which should have ever been a part of our foreign policy. Take WWII for instance:
Winston Churchill once described World War II as the "most unnecessary war in history." He was implying that if France and Britain had confronted the fuehrer's horse-drawn infantry in 1936, the world might have been spared what followed. And Hitler, with his myth of invincibility destroyed, might have been overthrown by his own generals.
Hitler boasted that he bluffed the two powers. We all know who Neville Chamberlain is. The refusal of France and Britian to confront Hitler silenced his critics and validated his strategy of conquest. It also gave him the necessary time he needed to arm the German army properly and eventually take France by force of arms.

An early battle in which the two powers stood up to Germany may have saved the world the agony of WWII as it unfolded.

An what about Osirak? If Israel hadn't preemptively struck the Osirak reactor in Iraq, would there have been a debate on Saddam's WMDs? No. They'd be very much in evidence, most likely even today.
Had the Israelis not unilaterally and preemptively taken out an Iraqi reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981 — a reactor that was about to go live — Iraq probably would've had nuclear weapons in 1991. And when it invaded Kuwait, there probably wouldn't have been a Desert Storm, and the world today would be a very different and more dangerous place.
It's easy to dismiss preemption as something no "honorable" country would do. Well countries aren't about honor. They operate in a Darwinian world of anarchy and the protection of their citizenry is the first priority. Before the advent of easily made and easily obtained WMDs we could pretend there was honor among nations. In the era of WMDs and suicide terrorists we're no longer allowed that luxury.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I’ve had this discussion with so many anti-war types that I could recite the arguments in my sleep. It doesn’t do any good. They are coming from a different set of assumptions.

You and I, McQ, believe the USA is worth fighting for and has the right to defend itself against threats foreign and domestic. A large percentage, in fact a majority in my opinion, of current liberals and leftists do not share that assumption. They have decided as an axiom of their belief system that the USA in inherently bad, and that our enemies all have good cause to fight us.

As a consequence, any damage they can cause to us by helping our enemies is regarded as a moral good by them. And any policy or tactic that enhances the USA’s security and influence is a moral evil.

This was best demonstrated by one young guy with whom I was discussing US foreign policy. He had asserted several items that I considered contradictory, all in criticism of US efforts. I said "Every single action the US takes can’t be wrong." His response - "Yes it can!"

That gave away the game. He and his ilk don’t judge American actions or policies by how likely that are to defend us or how well they work in the real world, or even by any objective system of morals or ethics. They judge them in the following fashion: "US does action A" —-> "Action A is morally wrong".
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Before I get started, let me just offer this piece of reality: Pragmatism, ethics and morals are three separate areas of thought, and they often conflict with each other quite legitimately — just a side point in the interest of clear logic.

The line of reason that gets missed most often in these discussions is not whether or not the US is an evil place, or whether George W. Bush is a bad president, but whether the logic behind what you refer to as "preemption" is sustainable. In case you’re unaware, the international community has generally favored preemptive military action. Preventive action, on the other hand, is less clearly supported, and usually relates to a level of probability short of imminence.

Perhaps some of the concern from those opposing the current policy has more to do with long-term survival than (the ever-so-popular refrain) "America-hating."

If we want to paint a bullseye on our own backs, we better hope we’re never in a position of weakness with regard to any of our present or future enemies. For the record, I am not against war, but to pretend we’ll always be able to solve our problems militarily, no matter how many outside forces turn against us, is simply foolish.
Written By: howard
George Bush says that Iraq is doing fine despite Iraqis being subjected to’’savage acts of violence’’. Here’s one such act:
Written By: Tony
URL: http://
And your point would be....?
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I suppose the next case to make at QandO is that Israel can now use their own illegal nukes to bomb Iran to keep them from getting their own illegal nukes? Good for Israel but bad for Muslims?
Written By: verl
URL: http://

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