Skip to content

Is the U.S. strategy of pre-emptive war more accepted now?

Former Sec of State Henry Kissinger -- the most powerful German emigrant in the US government in recent history -- noticed in The International Herald Tribune:
The recent publication of the second Bush administration statement on national strategy passed without the controversy that marked its predecessor in 2002 even though the new statement reiterates the commitment to a strategy of pre-emption in exactly the same words as the last. (...) The 2006 report was received with less hostility because other countries have had more experience now with the emerging new threats - and partly because a more conciliatory American diplomacy has left new scope for consultation.
 
Former Harvard professor Kissinger lectures that the "American strategic doctrine does not really talk about what is commonly defined as pre-emptive action", but deals with what is usually considered "preventive use of force: measures to forestall the emergence of a threat capable, at some point in the future, of being overwhelming." He concludes:
The analysis underlying the Strategic Doctrine document is correct in emphasizing that the changes in the international environment create a propensity toward some forms of preventive strategy. But stating the theory is only a first step. The concept must be applied to specific, concrete contingencies; courses of action need to be analyzed not only in terms of threats but of outcomes and consequences. Finally, a policy that allows for preventive force can sustain the international system only if solitary American enterprises are the rare exception, not the basic rule of American strategy.
With or without those specifications what could happen is: Iran (or any other country) feels threatened and decides it has the right for a preventive/preemptive attack against another country that has troops at all of its borders and a bellicose rhetoric. I don't mean the U.S., but consider the general problem of preventive or preemptive war. Consider Iran's latest bellicose rhetoric according to the AFP news wire. Does this rhetoric give Israel the right of a preemptive or preventive war?
"The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat," Ahmadinejad told the gathering of regime officials, visiting Palestinian militant leaders and foreign sympathizers. "Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated," said Ahmadinejad, whose regime does not recognise Israel and who drew international condemnation last year when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map."
What is the value of international law in the 21st century? Kissingers op-ed (recommended by our reader stehpinkeln, thank you!) points out:
If each nation claims the right to define its pre-emptive rights, the absence of any rules would spell international chaos.
 
Related developments:
AFP via Yahoo quotes General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and "among the regime's most powerful figures":
"The Americans know better than anyone that their troops in the region and in Iraq are vulnerable. I would advise them not to commit such a strategic error," he told reporters on the sidelines of a pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran. The United States accuses Iran of using an atomic energy drive as a mask for weapons development. Last weekend US news reports said President George W. Bush's administration was refining plans for preventive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. "I would advise them to first get out of their quagmire in Iraq before getting into an even bigger one," General Safavi said with a grin."
The Los Angeles Times reports about the latest US polls and mistrust of President Bush:
Asked whether they would support military action if Iran continued to produce material that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, 48% of the poll's respondents, or almost half, said yes; 40% said no. If Bush were to order military action, most respondents said they would support airstrikes against Iranian targets, and about one in four said they would support the use of American ground troops in Iran. (...)
In a telling reflection of Bush's erosion in public support, 54% said they did not trust him to "make the right decision about whether we should go to war with Iran," while 42% of respondents said they trusted him to do so. That was a reversal of public sentiment since 2003, on the eve of Bush's decision to invade Iraq, when 55% of respondents said they trusted him to make the right decision over whether to go to war.
I don't know what to make out of those polls. Does anybody believe that Iran would not react after U.S. airstrikes and that the U.S. would not need to use ground troops to stop the Iranian nuclear program?

Opinions from other blogs:
The Blue Voice ("The Bush Doctrine, official 2006 version: We gotta git Iran!"), Philomathean ("NYT: Iranian Bomb is "Years Away""), Conservative News & Opinion ("New Yorker Magazine Launches Preemptive Strike"), Blogs for Bush ("The Iranian Peace Process"), Customerservant ("Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?") and Martini Republic ("The Rumsfeld Doctrine, and the path to ruin").

Linked at: Is IT Just Me?|Right Wing Nation|Liberal Wrong Wing|Stray Dogs Found|Comedian Jenée: People are Idiots|Women Honor Thyself|Uncooperative Blogger | Big Dog | Third World County, Publius Rendezvous, Rhymes With Right| ACLU|Cao’s Blog| The Nuclear Rants of Samantha Burns, Point Five Missiles, Seven Deadly Chain Reactions, Church and Electricity, Blue Uranium Chronicles, The Radioactive Blogger, Stuck on Fossil Fuels, The Bullwinkle Power Plant, 123 Beta Particles, Jo's Atomic Cafe, and Basil's Left-Wing Protest Relocation Service.

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

GM Roper on :

Are you willing to accept as a nuclear power a regieme that first denies the holocaust and then threatens to create it's own holocaust by destroying Israel? I can't believe that would be your case. I'm not sure the US would be planning to strike, but not planning for them would be criminal. That's why they are called war plans Jorg.

Jorg on :

To answer your question: I would like to prevent a nuclear Iran. I don't know of any military strategy that can achieve this permanently. Do you know one? As far as I know even the US is considering airstrikes only. This will not stop the Iranians. Fortunately we still have some time. "I'm not sure the US would be planning to strike," I don't udnerstand? "but not planning for them would be criminal. That's why they are called war plans Jorg." Thanks for this belittling and patronizing remark. Where did I critize war planning? I don't think I ever criticized any planning. What do you suggest to prevent Iran from getting nuclear?

Jorg on :

I would like to add this qualifier: A full scale invasion with regime change is the only military strategy that would prevent Iran from getting nukes. I don't know of any country or alliance that is capable of achieving this at this point.

GM Roper on :

I don't think "only" air strikes would solve the problem either. I didn't mean for my "war planning" comment to be either belitteling or patronizing. For that I apologize in as much as it does read that way on reflection. I think that bunker busters would succeed in the short term (and not the nuclear variety either) but that would still leave Ahmadinejad in power as a puppet of the Mullahs. Perhaps, busting the bunkers might start an internal revolution and overthrow the Mullahs. I doubt that, Iran like most police states tend to have their populace cowed, though not always and the Shah was tossed by his own countrymen. I'm not sure what the answer is, perhaps a grand coalition led by the EU (especially France, Germany and Russia) should arm up and invade Iran since they dithered with Iran and are in part responsible for this connundrum. Anyone who believes that they can sucessfully negotiate with madmen like Iran and North Korea have never learned the lessons learned by most Behaviorism 101 students (rewarding a behavior tends to increase the frequency of that behavior) or the lesson learned by Neville Chamberlain.

GM Roper on :

Jorg, I don't necessarily agree with this, but it is one other point of view. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/101dorxa.asp by the way, who will be hosting the June 11th Carnival?

Jorg on :

George, thank you for your comment and the link to the Weekly Standard. "Perhaps, busting the bunkers might start an internal revolution and overthrow the Mullahs." How sure are you? I am pretty sure that the opposite will happen, i.e. a rally around the flag effect. Never underestimate Persian nationalism! Are you willing to take the risk? NATO bombed Serbia for several weeks in the Kosovo war in 1999. Milosevic was only overthrown many years after the war. I remember Gen Schwarzkopf calling the 1991 Iraq war the "100 hours" war, because Saddam gave up 100 hours after the the coaltion invaded Iraq. Before that the coalition flew thousands of airstrikes for ... I don't know how many weeks...Please fill the blanks. Clinton bombed Afghanistan, which actually helped the Taliban, I think, but I might be wrong. I don't know of any regime change due to airstrikes. Do you? For which connundrum are we responsible? Re the North Korean "madmen": Are you indirectly accusing the Bush administration to lack the knowledge of Behaviorism 101 students, because they negotiate with North Korea? The Weekly Standard author is a retired Air Force General. So he knows what he is talking about. I respect generals. However, I wonder whether a Army or Marine General would have so much trust in airstrikes. He writes: "Diplomacy must be pursued vigorously, but the experience with Iraq suggests there's little reason for optimism. Thus, a viable military option is imperative." Most folks on our side of the Atlantic would draw the exact opposite conclusion. Do you think the US pursues diplomacy vigorously? Wouldn't that mean direct talks with Iran? Don't forget the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate says Iran is ten years away from the bomb: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/109-War-against-Iran-Populism-against-the-US.html[/url] We must take the Iranian nuclear program seriously! We have to be tough towards them. We shouold apply sanctions. But we don't need to bomb them anytime soon. There is still plenty of time for negotiations. Moreover, in the next few years Iranian will be fed up with Ahmadinejad because he does not solve the economic problems. His bellicose rhetoric helps him to distract the Iranians from his economic policy failures. I do take his rhetoric seriously and I am concerned, but I also think he is exaggerating. Moreover, I think the Iranian president does not determine major foreign policy decisions. Its the Mullahs, who do that, but I might be wrong. Re rally around the flag, check this out: "A serious problem for the Western campaign to press the Islamic Republic about its nuclear program is that Iranian society has been indifferent or hostile to the West’s efforts. The United States in particular needs to find ways to reenergize its outreach to Iranian society." [url]http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2442[/url]

GM Roper on :

Jorg, I don't know of any regime taken out only by bombs. On the other hand, bombs can wreck an economy and take out industrial production. You are correct about Persian nationalism, and couple that with the Mullah-ocracy/islamofascism I think it far more likely that Iran would then sow mines in the Hormuz straits. We could deal with that perhaps, but the damage to the world's oil supplies would be huge. Another set of links from the right that suggests the danger in pre-emptive strikes are here and here and here. All three from Rick Moran's Rightwing Nuthouse. The comments are also interesting. The "connundrum" I speak of is that France, Germany and Russia have been negotiating with Iran as has the nulclear regulatory agency of the UN and all have allowed Iran to jack them around on the issue of enrichment. They, we and others should know that people with grandiose feelings of superiority can not "deal" honestly. Their grandiosity will not allow them to. Bush is in fact "negotiating" with N. Korea, but not on the terms demanded by N. Korea. He has steadfastly (at least in this case) demanded and obtained the input from others including China. Will this prove to be helpful or hurtful. I don't know. The cult built around "Dear Leader" whom I think is a paranoid little twit with a starving population, seems to be defying all rational sense when it comes to what really is good for N. Korea. I think it likely that Iran is at least a year, two or maybe three befoe it has a workable design and sufficient materials to build a bomb, but we must not allow that to happen. Perhaps it will take them 10 years. But I doubt it. One should also consider the stupidity apparant in Clinton's fiasco with trying to put over a disinformation trick on Iran. It may have backfired. I don't know the answer, I think a military option is feasable, I think war planning is necessary given the rhetoric and actions of the Iranian Mullochracy and I think those plans need to be constantly updated. I also think that the ENTIRE world needs to put pressure on Iran and tell them that we won't put up with their crap.

GM Roper on :

Jorg, the links were stripped out for some reason. Perhaps too many?

Jorg on :

GM Roper's links were stripped because the software does not allow HTML code, but only the BBCode. Here are the GM Roper's links: [url=http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2006/04/14/random-thoughts-on-iran-how-about-a-quid-pro-quo/]Ringwingnuthouse One[/url] [url=http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2006/04/13/disheartening-words-from-bill-kristol/]Rightwingnuthouse Two[/url] [url=http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2006/04/13/iran-everybody-please-relax-and-take-a-deep-breath/]Rightwingnuthouse Three[/url] and the fourth on on clinton and iran [url=http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1614799/posts]Free Republic[/url]

Thomas on :

I don't think the strategy is more accepted now. Europe is just disillusioned by Bush and does not even get angry anymore. No more surprises. Not anymore shocked by him.

joe on :

Thomas, Reality tends to do that.

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options