Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University

9.11: Preempting Future Threats: Prognostication or Production?  8.6.02

"The boundary between war and peace, already eroded by the 911 attack and the subsequent war on terror, took another hit last month. In a speech at West Point, President Bush renewed his commitment, first announced in his State of the Union address last January, for a new first-strike strategy for the US military..." Read | Discuss

Analysis  8.19.02

Against Pre-Emptive Strikes
Peter Dombrowski, Strategic Research Department, Naval War College
"What countries, groups, or individuals is the new Bush doctrine aimed at? Judging from the President's words it appears that the policy is aimed, first and foremost, against terrorists. In the wake of the September 11 tragedy and earlier attacks by Al Qaeda on U.S. facilities, citizens, and government personnel across the globe, such a policy seems reasonable..." 8.19.02 Read | Discuss
A Strategic Ontology: Pre-Emptive Strike and the Production of (In)Security
Solon Barocas, Research Assistant, ITWP
"Pre-emption is the hot new ticket. Both President George W. Bush and Director Steven Spielberg have done well in their respective deployments of the first strike policy. But let us not be misled. Pre-emption in and of itself is no great political novelty..." 8.6.02 Read | Discuss
Clippings  2.6.03
North Korea Threatens US with First Strike
Jonathan Watts @ The Guardian
"North Korea is entitled to launch a pre-emptive strike against the US rather than wait until the American military have finished with Iraq, the North's foreign ministry told the Guardian yesterday..." 2.6.03 Read | Discuss
Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy
Todd S. Purdum and Patrick E. Tyler @ New York Times
"Leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq, saying the administration has neither adequately prepared for military action nor made the case that it is needed." 8.15.02 Read | Discuss
Lawmakers want to hear from Bush on Iraq
Associated Press @ CNN
"Lawmakers say they are waiting for President Bush to make his case for invading Iraq before they endorse it, with evidence that Saddam Hussein is prepared to use weapons of mass destruction the key factor." 8.12.02 Read | Discuss
Why We Must Invade
Mark Fiore @ MotherJones
Mark Fiore is an editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. 8.9.02 Read | Discuss
Biden sees pre-emptive strike
Robert Stacy McCain @ Washington Times
"he United States has "no choice but to eliminate" the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday — and that "probably" means war with Iraq." 8.5.02 Read | Discuss
The New Bush Doctrine
Richard Falk @ The Nation
"The radical idea being touted by the White House and Pentagon is that the United States has the right to use military force against any state that is seen as hostile or makes moves to acquire weapons of mass destruction--nuclear, biological or chemical. The obvious initial test case for pre-emption is Iraq, whose government the United States is continually threatening to overthrow, either on the model of the displacement of the Taliban in Afghanistan or by some other method..." 7.15.02 Read | Discuss
From deterrence to pre-emption? The US military after 9/11
Paul Rogers @ openDemocracy
"The combination for the US of global power and domestic vulnerability was exposed by the shock of 9/11. The impact has been to intensify a new drive for control of the international security order, rooted in the immediate post-cold-war era, which was already underway..." 7.3.02 Read | Discuss
Striking First
Online News Hour @ PBS
Margaret Warner discusses the debate over President Bush's preemptive strike policy proposal with Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration and head of the Defense Policy Board; and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. 7.1.02 Watch | Discuss
Security Dilemmas: From deterrence to pre-emption - nuclear weapons and the war on terror
Barry Zellen @
"Once the smoke and debris of 9/11 cleared, we undertook an odyssey that began when America’s defense-planners realized we were up against an adversary which could not, would not, be deterred from attacking our homeland. With clarity borne of the horror of that day, America’s strategic planners realized the only effective defense against such foes would be offense. Instead of deterring aggression, we were left with only one choice: pre-empting it. Pre-emption thus became America’s strategy by default..." 7.1.02 Read | Discuss
Between prevention and preemption: a German-American debate
Jackson Janes @ SecureFrontiers.Net
"The Bush team argued that the consequences should be clear. Not only was there a need to prevent the danger, there was/is a need to preempt it if necessary with military might and, if necessary, alone.. The symbol of this danger, among many Americans present in Munich, was first and foremost Iraq. As Senator McCain put it:"There is a terrorist in Baghdad". Yet, the threat of preemption raises enormous problems for the German-American relationship..." 7.1.02 Read | Discuss
Strike First, Explain Yourself Later
Michael Elliot @ Time
"At first sight, Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive attack seems frightening. True, Administration officials have said that pre-emption can take nonmilitary forms. But it still seems as if the U.S. has arrogated to itself the right to go to war whenever it sniffs danger from a regime it doesn't like. And Bush's speech seems inconsistent both with the very narrow Caroline principle and with Article 51 of the United Nations charter, which allows self-defense only "if an armed attack occurs" (not "is likely to occur") against a nation..." 6.24.02 Read | Discuss
Invitation to Global Anarchy
Kevin Martin @ Common Dreams
"Let’s get this straight: Bush, despite the recent treaty signed with Russia, plans to keep 10,000 nuclear warheads indefinitely. Moreover, he plans to develop new types of nuclear weapons, target non-nuclear states, and, most likely, resume full-scale nuclear testing. Yet under "strike first," if he says another country is attempting to obtain WMD, Bush deigns onto himself the right to launch a pre-emptive attack. Even if he can’t prove it and even if an attack against our country is not imminent, he claims, under this policy, the right to attack any country..." 6.24.02 Read | Discuss
The Bush doctrine
Richard Wolffe @ Financial Times
"Far from the summer tradition of unmemorable graduation speeches, Mr Bush marked a historic break with the cold war doctrines that have dominated half a century of US foreign and military policy. Declaring that "new threats also require new thinking", he outlined a new era of national security threats and an entirely fresh doctrine of pre-emptive action." 6.21.02 Read | Discuss
Get Yours Today!
Mark Fiore @ MotherJones
Mark Fiore is an editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. 6.21.02 Read | Discuss
Pre-emption - new US policy on Iraq
Jonathan Marcus @ BBC
"All the signs from Washington indicate that the Bush Administration is eager to find some covert means of toppling Saddam Hussein. Its all part of a much more assertive and proactive stance towards both international terrorism and countries that the United States believes are developing weapons of mass destruction..." 6.17.02 Read | Discuss
Why a First Strike Will Surely Backfire
William A. Galston @ Washington Post
"What is at stake is nothing less than a fundamental shift in America's place in the world. Rather than continuing to serve as first among equals in the postwar international system, the United States would act as a law unto itself, creating new rules of international engagement without agreement by other nations. In my judgment, this new stance would ill serve the long-term interests of our country..." 6.16.02 Read | Discuss
Bush to Formalize a Defense Policy of Hitting First
David E. Sanger @ New York Times
"The policy, a significant move away from the chesslike military strategies of the cold war, deals more broadly with a range of options to prevent nations from obtaining large-scale weapons or sponsoring terrorism. The strategy will probably be completed in August, when the president is here on vacation..." 6.15.02 Read | Discuss
Be ready to strike terror states, Rumsfeld tells Nato
Stephen Castle @ The Independent
"Asked whether Nato – which has always defined itself as a defensive alliance – should take pre-emptive action against terrorists, Mr Rumsfeld replied that the nature of terrorism meant that traditional definitions needed to be re-examined..." 6.7.02 Read | Discuss
The Bush doctrine makes nonsense of the UN charter
Jonathan Steele @ The Guardian
"In a speech last weekend in the midst of World Cup fever and the Kashmir crisis, President Bush launched his new concept of pre-emption. His speech can claim to be the most chilling statement of his presidency so far. In effect, he retroactively approved the Israeli strike on Osirak and said the US has the right to strike, pre-emptively, at any nation which it decides is developing weapons of mass destruction or supporting terrorism. It is carte blanche for a war on the world..." 6.7.02 Read | Discuss
Taking the Offensive
Editorial @ Washington Post
“President Bush has been steadily expanding his vision of America's role in the world since Sept. 11. Over the weekend he offered a rhetorical outline that, if realized in practice, would make him one of the most aggressive of internationalists among presidents…” 6.4.02 Read | Discuss
Bush: U.S. Will Strike First at Enemies
Mike Allen and Karen DeYoung @ Washington Post
"President Bush told future Army officers today that the United States can no longer deter attacks from other nations by threatening massive retaliation, but instead must strike looming enemies first. Bush's new description of his foreign policy, sketched during the graduation address he gave at the United States Military Academy, sharply revised the positions he took as a candidate, when he emphasized the need to limit U.S. intervention to regions with immediate bearing on the nation's strategic interests..." 6.2.02 Read | Discuss
The Value of Pre-emptive Force
Jeffrey Gedmin @ A.E.I.
"It is politically convenient to concentrate on apprehending individual terrorists--this is an important part of the problem. But terrorism has long ceased to be merely a criminal justice problem. What of the state that makes the terror possible? In the US, the debate about justice and retaliation is almost certain to give way to a fuller debate about pre-emptive strikes. It will be controversial, not least with many of our closest allies. If pursued properly, however, the pre-emptive use of force offers the best assurance that vicious terrorist attacks are less likely to occur in future." 9.13.01 Read | Discuss
Bush's First Strike
Michael Ignatieff @ New York Review
"The real challenges to the President and his administration are strictly political. Even after being evicted from Kuwait, Saddam continues to refer to Kuwait as the nineteenth province of Iraq. Only American air power and a carrier group in the Gulf stands between him and Kuwait's oil fields and Kuwait's position at the head of the Gulf. With the collapse of the Middle East peace talks, Saddam is using surging oil revenues to buy the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that will put him in the forefront of the Arab rejectionists who want to drive America from the region and throw Israel into the sea." 3.29.01 Read | Discuss

Sources  6.18.02

Signals vs. Noise Discussion Board @ 37 Signals
West Point Graduation Speech @
Wider War Watch @ Project on Defense Alternatives