Talk:Preemptive war

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These items were removed from the orignal page because (1) there is no reference to "preventive" in them -- what is the point of including them? (2) they deserve to be analyzed as faulty justifications for the US-Iraq war, but this doesnt seem to be the place for that.

  • "There are basically two approaches to solving the problem of terrorism. One is that you understand the mind of the terrorist in order to establish defenses against it. The other is that you kill all the terrorists and all the potential terrorists." -- Jude Wanniski in a memo to Henry Kissinger regarding Richard Perle ("The Prince of Darkness"), September 18, 2001.

According to O'Neill, from the moment of the "very first National Security Council (NSC) meeting, ... 'From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,' says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic A 10 days after the inauguration - eight months" prior to September 11, 2001. "'From the very first instance, it was about Iraq." The focus was on what could be done to affect regime change, says Suskind, "'Day one, these things were laid and sealed.'"

Suskind adds that O'Neill "got briefing materials" under his cover sheet for the second NSC meeting. "There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, 'Plan for post-Saddam Iraq'." According to Suskind, "they discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001." And, as early as March 2001, the Bush adminstration was discussing the future of Iraq's oil industry, including "a map of potential areas for [oil] exploration."


Deleted for the same reason. Note the first part of this quote is the one where "preventive" war is listed.

"Although there was talk of building conventional weapons capable of destroying deeply buried targets like command centers (Aspin said both new strategies and new military capabilities were needed), the initiative envisioned the use of U.S. nuclear weapons to defeat chemical or biological weapons. The idea, simply, was to "locate, neutralize, or destroy" others' weapons of mass destruction before they could be used. For the first time, the United States openly added targets in the Third World to its nuclear-weapons targeting plan.

"Now [April 2001], after eight years of reality, the initiative has morphed into something much less than promised. Author Henry Sokolski describes the process.

"The Fate of President Bill Clinton's "Counterproliferation Initiative" was tethered to its strategic assumptions. An initial interest in devising plans for preemptive strikes against foreign proliferation activities simply ignored the American culture's bias against launching Pearl Harbor-like attacks. More important, the initiative at first presumed that some military-technical means could neutralize proliferation problems. And that, in fact, turned out to be inherently difficult, if not impossible."


More "Justification" for the Preemptive War in Iraq

  • 27 January 2004: "Ashcroft: War Justified Even Without WMD" by William J. Kole, AP: "Even if weapons of mass destruction are never found in Iraq, the U.S.-led war was justified because it eliminated the threat that Saddam Hussein might again resort to evil chemistry and evil biology, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday."

Misapplication of the term "Preventive war"

One finds many faulty references to the US-Iraq 2003 war as a "preemptive" war, for example:

In January 2004, the matter of preemptive war initiated by the Bush administration in pursuit of alleged terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein was pushed into public discourse for U.S. presidential election, 2004 by George W. Bush's former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, the main source for the book The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind, a former Wall Street reporter.[1]

Here is another example where variations of the "preventive war" term were used. Although there was no direct attempt to create synonyms, what one finds here are disingenous terms aimed at hiding the war's illegal nature while couching them in terms of "grand military strategy" terminology. These terms were uttered by a US Senator, and thus are worthy of analysis:

"Described as "preventive defense" or "extended deterrence" by its supporters – but decried as "a new form of gunboat diplomacy" by its detractors – a new program called the "Counterproliferation Initiative" [Presidential Decision Directive PDD/NSC 18] was unveiled in December 1993 by then-Defense Secretary Les Aspin.
"There was considerable controversy over what "counterproliferation" meant. But it was widely interpreted as indicating that the United States--having recently demonstrated overwhelming military superiority in the Gulf War--would now flex its muscles even further, looking into the ways and means of preemptively striking regional troublemakers or would-be attackers.[2].

Origins of the Concept of a "Preemptive War"

Khurram Husain, in his article American Dreams. Intellectual Roots of Neo-conservative Thinking published in the 2003 Yearbook "Studien Von Zeitfragen", writes:

"If Albert Wohlstetter was a moralist at heart because he believed that power had a higher purpose, Andrew Marshall, his contemporary and peer in the RAND Corporation, who also joined in 1949, is a purist. For Marshall there are no lessons to draw from Vietnam except military lessons, and power is its own justification.

"For 23 years, Marshall worked with the RAND Corporation but has left virtually no paper trail behind. All we know of him is what we are told by those who have known him. He is known as a man of few words, rarely ever speaking before large gatherings, meticulously avoids leaving behind a record, and has been described as "delphic" in his manner of speech sometimes. And yet his may be the single most enduring legacy of any from amongst his peers.

"There is very little to tell us about Marshall's work at RAND since hardly any of it has been declassified. In 1972, his friend and fellow RAND researcher, James R. Schlesinger who was serving as Secretary of Defense in the Nixon administration, created a little office in the Department of Defense titled the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), and made Marshall the Director. The ONA had a murky brief. Marshall's job was to imagine every kind of threat the US military might ever face. Marshall used the ONA to assist the Team B in their efforts to access raw intelligence. He followed Soviet military thinking closely, ran war game exercises involving novel scenarios, and taught a summer seminar at the Naval War College. For 30 years Marshall has directed the ONA, and built for himself a formidable reputation and an equally formidable network of protégés in and out of government.

"In the 1970s, Marshall busied himself with concepts of ballistic missile defense and closely reading Soviet literature on nuclear war. This is where he came across the writings of the Soviet general staff on the nature of military revolutions. The Soviet officers were arguing that advances in missile, communication and sensor technologies were creating the conditions for a "military technical revolution" somewhat akin to how artillery had rendered horse mounted cavalry obsolete.

"Marshall was impressed, and followed this idea of military revolutions closely. He found that the period in the 1920s and 30s was the most dynamic period in military revolutions, seeing new technologies like aircraft, but also new operational concepts in supply and maneouver such as blitzkrieg. He became an advocate of just such a revolution, but added that it was not exclusively technology driven, but opertationally driven as well.

"He called his ideas the "revolution in military affairs" (RMA). Failing to make much headway with top level decision makers in replacing containment and deterrence thinking with RMA, he turned his attention to the officer corps of the Pentagon. He ran annual exercises, war games and seminars and stimulated his students at the Naval War College to think about warfare in entirely new terms.

"He attracted quite a following. Barry Watts, an air force pilot and graduate of the airforce academy, took his ideas to Northrop Grumman Corporation and as director of their Analysis Center, persuaded the company to look away from large fighter platforms and towards high tech avionics for its future. Grumman was the first company bring the ideas of the RMA on board.

"Lt Gen. Andrew F. Krepinevich of the Marine Corps was another protégé, who was immensely impressed with Marshall's novel thinking on the role of information in warfare, and authored a book with Zalmay Khalilzad, an oil company consultant and current Bush envoy to Afghanistan and Iran, on the subject.

"His best known protégé is probably Donald Rumsfeld, whose association with Marshall is decades old, dating from Rumsfeld's early days in the Pentagon. Rumseld became an early proponent of ballistic missile defense, a Marshall idea and belonged to that clique of hawkish policy makers who were opposed to Henry Kissinger's ideas of détente and engagement with China.

"Following the collapse of the USSR, Marshall had a brief period when he argued that the USSR was now at its most dangerous moment since they might lash out at one last chance to militarily hold their empire together. In the early 90s, Marshall became a China hawk, arguing that Chinese growth rates had made it possible for China to become a nuclear competitor of the US within 25 years. In 1993 the ONA funded a series of roundtable discussions amongst all the services to discuss the military impact of advances in information technology, the value of space warfare, joint operational commands and greater coordination amongst the services, and the impact of declining budgets on the RMA.

"By 1994, Marshall's twenty year long efforts to convert the Pentagon officer corps were beginning to bear fruit. Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Perry started a project to conduct a department wide discussion on the RMA. The project looked at future defense needs till 2015 and recommended the most promising technologies and operational concepts, conducted war games to simulate these defense environments and produced a report on their findings.

"When the Bush administration came to power, the RMA was put into practice. Rumsfeld was made the Secretary of Defense, and began by appointing Barry Watts to the Program Evaluation and Assessment Office, James G. Roche as the Secretary of the Air Force, and empowered Andrew Marshall to conduct a sweeping review of the military and make recommendations to make the military into a 21st century fighting force. The RMA was no longer part of the lunatic fringe from where it had originated. Its adherents were now in control, and were going to make their presence felt.

"The outcome was the Quadrennial Defense Review of 2002. The review called for reshaping the armed forces to make them lighter, faster, more flexible and able to conduct multi theater operations simultaneously. It met fierce resistance from the old guard of the services, who were wedded to the status quo and feared seeing their pet fighter wings, aircraft carrier battle groups and armored divisions get scrapped. But Marshall and his ilk have a history of an almost cult like confidence in their mission, and a determination to succeed that is best seen in their 30 year long effort that has only now come to its moment of truth.

"The ideas of Marshall and Wohlstetter drive the foreign policy of the Bush administration. The doctrine of pre-emptive action only takes Wohlstetter's logic behind the second strike capability to its logical conclusion in a world where those who possess weapons of mass destruction may not be as easily deterred as the USSR was. And the war on terrorism has provided that environment of perpetual uncertainty in war that Marshall and his protégés have been thinking about for decades. As the superpower girds itself for a ruinous war in an uncertain part of the world, one is reminded of the hubris of power and the follies that led America into the Vietnam war. Today America is being steered into an endless war precisely by those who have been preparing for this sort of world all their lives. We shall soon see whether they know what they are doing."

In a second article, "Neocons: The men behind the curtain" published November/December 2003 in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Khurram Husain writes:

"By the George Herbert Walker Bush administration, Paul D. Wolfowitz was working for Dick Cheney, the secretary of defense. In May 1990 he delivered a briefing for Cheney recommending that the United States take steps to ensure its strategic dominance for the foreseeable future. As director of the Pentagon's Defense Planning Board, he was tasked with writing the next Defense Planning Guidance, recommending where U.S. military priorities ought to be in the post-Cold War world.

"What Wolfowitz produced in that document was nothing less than a blueprint for world domination. He recognized that with the Soviet collapse, no country on earth had the capability to wage large-scale conventional war against America. But that did not mean the end of threats to American power. Instead, he argued, the United States must 'maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.'"

"In short, strategic decisions had to be made before the threat materialized. During the Cold War, Wohlstetter had strenuously argued for preventive deployment as the posture necessary to maintain the deterrent against a growing communist threat. Wolfowitz, his protégé, in the waning days of the Cold War, argued for preemptive action as the only way to assure order in a world in which it could no longer be assumed that nuclear-armed belligerents would behave rationally." . . . . "The war plan in Iraq was built on these concepts. Inspired by the Nazi invasion of France, Rumsfeld's war plan had three armored columns advance rapidly on Baghdad in one large maneuver. The idea was to head for the center as fast as possible and end the conflict by decapitating the enemy. The flexibility of the plan showed itself when the Fourth Infantry Division, which was supposed to move south from Turkey to Baghdad, was denied permission to operate out of Turkey--and the war moved ahead nonetheless. Speed was the other critical factor, and when intense resistance in the south, particularly at Nasiriyah, threatened to slow the pace of the advance, the units were ordered to continue northward rather than perpetuate the fight.

"The plan worked spectacularly, although the Iraqi army put up a much fiercer fight than the planners had imagined. Its shortcomings became apparent only in the aftermath of the war. Hundreds of thousands of militarily trained Iraqi army personnel were released into the general population. This left the occupying power with no means to control their actions, the consequences of which are now apparent.

"Why was the war necessary in the first place? In the eyes of those who pressed for war, the United States was already in a quagmire following the indeterminate outcome of the first Gulf War. According to Wolfowitz, leaving Saddam Hussein in power was a big mistake. The way he saw it, there was no way to readmit Iraq under Saddam Hussein back into the community of nations, because it would then be impossible to suppress his ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Given the zero margin of error that weapons of mass destruction allow, and the strategic significance of the Middle East, such an ambition could not be tolerated. The sanctions, for their part, could not be maintained indefinitely, either. The status quo was the quagmire, and regime change was the only way out. And the sooner it was carried out, the lower the cost of the operation and rebuilding would be.

"The quest for an impregnable defense and military supremacy over the rest of the world has brought America to a perilous moment of truth. The war in Iraq is located where Wohlstetter and Wolfowitz's ideas of strategic supremacy intersect with the impregnable force that Marshall and Rumsfeld wish to build. The application of counterforce ideas to a guerrilla war pulled the United States into a colossal quagmire in Vietnam. But the doctrine of preemptive action turns the iron law of necessity in nuclear strategy into foreign policy. This time the quagmire will not be an unwinnable war in one country, but endless war across a vast stretch of the Earth---a war from which extrication will be next to impossible."


Relocated all the material above until it, and the article, can be reworked. Perhaps we need more than one article to evolve from this:

  • 1. definition of what is accepted as "preemptive war"
  • 2. US rationale for the "preemptive war" in Iraq.

IMO Artificial Intelligence 12:09, 9 Apr 2005 (EDT)

Absent a citation, also relocated the following here:

Among the few UN sanctioned recourses to war, an imminent attack is allowed to be countered and is referred to in international law as preemptive war. On the other hand, preventive war, where there is no imminent threat, and is considered a war of aggression, and thus a supreme under international law.

Artificial Intelligence 12:25, 9 Apr 2005 (EDT)

doesnt start with...

AI, the current version doesnt start with a definition... it is sort of awkward to start with "the question..." I think this is sub par.

Kind rgds -Paul


... at a loss for words ... how does one get a passing grade in your world, anyhow? Artificial Intelligence 17:45, 10 Apr 2005 (EDT)