Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Preventive war

Preventive war

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Preventive war'
Start a new discussion about 'Preventive war'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
A preventive war or preventative war is a war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 initiated to prevent another party from attacking, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned. Preventive war aims to forestall a shift in the balance of power by strategically attacking before the balance of power has a chance to shift in the direction of the adversary. Preventive war is distinct from preemptive war
Preemptive war
A preemptive war is a war that is commenced in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived inevitable offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending war before that threat materializes. It is a war which preemptively 'breaks the peace'. The term: 'preemptive war' is...

, which is first strike when an attack is imminent. Preventive war undertaken without the approval of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 is illegal under the modern framework of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

, though Robert Delahunty
Robert Delahunty
Robert J. Delahunty is a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From 1989 through2003, he worked in the United States Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel...

 and John Yoo
John Yoo
John Choon Yoo is an American attorney, law professor, and author. As a former official in the United States Department of Justice during the George W...

 from the George W. Bush administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 maintained in their discussion of the Bush Doctrine
Bush Doctrine
The Bush Doctrine is a phrase used to describe various related foreign policy principles of former United States president George W. Bush. The phrase was first used by Charles Krauthammer in June 2001 to describe the Bush Administration's unilateral withdrawals from the ABM treaty and the Kyoto...

 that these standards are unrealistic.

Advocates


Advocates of preventive war have ranged from Posadist Communists, who argued for war to destroy capitalism, to western neo-conservatives such as George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Henry Rumsfeld is an American politician and businessman. Rumsfeld served as the 13th Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford, and as the 21st Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush. He is both the youngest and the oldest person to...

, who argued that preventive war is necessary in today's post September 11th world
Post-9/11
Post-9/11 is a term used to describe state of living in the United States or other parts of the world after the September 11 attacks, in reference to the many changes that have occurred due to the attacks...

 . Proponents claim it has been used throughout American history and is especially relevant in the present as it relates to unconventional war tactics and weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

. The National Security Strategy advocates a policy of proactive counterproliferation efforts, and preventive measures.

Criticism


There is a consensus that preventive war "goes beyond what is acceptable in international law" and lacks legal basis. While the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change stopped short of rejecting the concept outright, it suggested that there is no right to preventive war - if there are good grounds for initiating preventive war, the matter should be put to the Security Council, which can authorize such action if it chooses to.

Examples


Both Axis and Allies in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 invaded neutral countries on grounds of prevention. In 1940, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway
Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

, arguing that Britain might have used them as launching points for an attack, or prevented supply of strategic materials to Germany. In 1941, the British and Soviets invaded Iran
Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran was the Allied invasion of the Imperial State of Iran during World War II, by British, Commonwealth, and Soviet armed forces. The invasion from August 25 to September 17, 1941, was codenamed Operation Countenance...

 to secure a supply corridor into Russia. The Shah of Iran
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 appealed to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 for help, but was rebuffed on the grounds that "movements of conquest by Germany will continue and will extend beyond Europe to Asia, Africa, and even to the Americas, unless they are stopped by military force."

Japan v USA 1941


The probably most famous example of preventive war is the war in the Pacific, launched when Japan attacked military targets in Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

. Many in the U.S. and Japan believed war was inevitable, this belief coupled to the crippling U.S. oil embargo that was rapidly degrading Japanese military capability led the Japanese leadership to believe it was better to have the war as soon as possible.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was partly motivated by a desire to cripple U.S. naval power in the Pacific in order to allow the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 to advance with reduced opposition from the US when it in order to secure Japanese oil supplies fought the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and the Dutch Empire
Dutch Empire
The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

 for control over the rich East Indian (Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

, Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

) oil-fields. In 1940, American policies and tension toward Japanese military actions and Japanese expansionism in the Far East increased. For example, in May 1940, the base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet that was stationed on the west coast of the United States
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 was forwarded to an "advanced" position at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

. The move was opposed by some Navy officials, including their commander, Admiral James Otto Richardson, who was in consequence relieved by President Roosevelt. Even so, the Far East Fleet was not significantly reinforced. Another ineffective plan to reinforce the Pacific was a rather late relocation of fighter planes to bases located on the Pacific islands
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

 (e.g., Wake Island
Wake Island
Wake Island is a coral atoll having a coastline of in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu west to Guam east. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

). For a long time, Japanese leaders, especially leaders of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

, had known that the large military strength and production capacity of the United States posed a long-term threat to Japan's imperialist desires, especially if hostilities broke out in the Pacific. War games on both sides had long reflected these expectations.

Arab-Israeli War (1967)


A dispute over territorial waters led Egypt to expel UN forces from a pre-established buffer zone, close the Straits of Tiran
Straits of Tiran
The Straits of Tiran , are the narrow sea passages, about wide, between the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas which separate the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea...

 to Israel, and mobilize over 1,000 tanks and 100,000 soldiers on the Israel's borders. Israel could not maintain a comparable level of mobilization due to its smaller population, and so decided to strike first, launching the Six-Day War which has been described as both preemptive (Michael Waltzer) and preventive.

Iraq War (2003-present)



The 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 was claimed as a preemptive war
Preemptive war
A preemptive war is a war that is commenced in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived inevitable offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending war before that threat materializes. It is a war which preemptively 'breaks the peace'. The term: 'preemptive war' is...

 by the Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 administration. Some sources claim that the war was partly an attempt to control Middle Eastern oil wealth.

Supporters of the war have argued that it was justified, as Iraq harbored Islamic terrorist groups that share a common hatred of Western countries.

In support of an attack on Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 stated in an address to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 on September 12, 2002, that the Iraqi "...regime is a grave and gathering danger.". However, despite several years of occupation, the weapons of mass destruction he alleged have not been found.

See also

  • A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
  • Bush Doctrine
    Bush Doctrine
    The Bush Doctrine is a phrase used to describe various related foreign policy principles of former United States president George W. Bush. The phrase was first used by Charles Krauthammer in June 2001 to describe the Bush Administration's unilateral withdrawals from the ABM treaty and the Kyoto...

  • Command responsibility
    Command responsibility
    Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes....

  • Caroline affair
    Caroline affair
    The Caroline affair was a series of events beginning in 1837 that strained relations between the United States and Britain....

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

     statements on 'preventative war' in WikiQuote
  • Imperialism
    Imperialism
    Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

  • Jus ad bellum
    Jus ad bellum
    Jus ad bellum is a set of criteria that are to be consulted before engaging in war, in order to determine whether entering into war is permissible; that is, whether it is a just war....

  • Kellogg–Briand Pact
  • Legality of the Iraq War
    Legality of the Iraq War
    The legality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been widely debated since the United States, United Kingdom, and a coalition of other countries launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq...

  • Military science
    Military science
    Military science is the process of translating national defence policy to produce military capability by employing military scientists, including theorists, researchers, experimental scientists, applied scientists, designers, engineers, test technicians, and military personnel responsible for...

  • UN Charter

External links