Wednesday, October 20, 2004

War and Preemption

The below linked post is extremely well written and deserves honest review and criticism. I find that I am unable to disagree with anything written. It is very worth reading as it was written before we went into Iraq; much of the noise and hyperbole was still to come.

As I read his post, and thought about what we are doing, I am of the opinion that our current action in Iraq fails the posted standard of the "just war doctrine". (And NO, please God NO, let's not talk about Kerry's 'Global Test' as this point. Let's just drop it, shall we? Please?)

I find I am completely in agreement with the concepts and principles of the Just War Doctrine, for reasons I will address later if it seems relevant. For now, just read his post and see if you agree with the concept.

However, this doctrine does not provide for the option of preemption. And so, I am in a moral quandary as I consider the "rightness" (no pun intended) of preemptive war.

This is something subtle and important, and, of course, totally lost during this political campaign. But, preemption is a potentially dangerous concept. A double edged sword, if you will.

Preemption could be the beginning of Empire. The US thus far has sidestepped overt use of power for the purpose of empire building. Nationally, we have not been interested in Ruling The World. And so, I hoped, we had sidestepped the historical inevitable end of all empires. But, the siren song of preemption would justify all kinds of military action all over the world. In fact, wouldn't the world be safer if the US just ruled the whole world? Hmmmm?

The concept of preemption as the primary standard for going to war needs careful examination. Meanwhile, as a springboard for discussion, I offer, from the loyal opposition, this post:

buggieboy: hapless soldier's sigh



J.D. said...


Thanks! I hope you know the feeling is quite mutual - except that I admit you are the better craftsman. Your posts and comments are awesome.

One point: I don't think the Just War doctrine forbids pre-emption. Hugo Grotius felt pre-emptive strikes were justified. Israel's 1967 strikes were pre-emptive and didn't violate the standard. I also think the Israeli strikes on Iraq's nuclear facilities were justifed and met the standard. And the first factor of the just war standard is "The damage inflicted (or threatened) by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain." Notice "or threatened." I also say in the editorial that the just war standard doesn't mean you need to wait and be hit first. It means that you should be as certain as you can be that the threat actually exists and that other alternatives are worse than striking first. Being more certain means you don't end up going "oops." Like we have over the non-existend WMDs that never presented a threat - and that the military KNEW did not present a threat to the United States, either from Saddam or from him changing his history of persecuting and killing Islamic fundamentalists and sharing WMD's with them.

Dan Boucher said...

my only comment is thanks for the fighting, bro. we're all in this together-- i think we're in good shape. keeping my fingers crossed