Posts Tagged ‘pre-emptive war’

Time for the US to ditch the “Bush Doctrine” of pre-emptive war

April 19, 2009

By Paul J. Balles | Redress, April 19, 2009

Paul J. Balles calls on US President Barack Obama strongly to repudiate the Israeli-inspired “Bush Doctrine” of pre-emptive war and to urge Congress to pass legislation that permits war only as a legitimate act of defence”.

Suppose you and I are walking along the street in opposite directions. Now, suppose I don’t like your looks. You look threatening.

I can do several things: look away, go on about my walk and try to forget your threatening look, or I can return your threatening look and perhaps provoke you to challenge me.

On the other hand, I can assume, rightly or wrongly, that you are actually a threat to me. Assuming I’m strong enough, I might then hit you in order to disable the threat.

This, in short, is the theory and act of pre-emption, a theory and action that has been the basis of much foreign policy of both America and Israel.

In America, the application of the theory became the “Bush Doctrine”. However, it didn’t originate with George W. Bush but with Zionists like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and others in the Bush administration.

The act of striking pre-emptively is not new. The Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1941 after the Germans attacked Russia. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour to pre-empt America from controlling the South Pacific.

When the US invaded Iraq, the historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote that Bush’s grand strategy was “alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at the time of Pearl Harbour”.

By definition, a pre-emptive strike commonly refers to an attack made upon an enemy as a precautionary response to an anticipated or impending war, such as in a pre-emptive war.

The so-called “Israel Defence Forces” launched a pre-emptive attack on Arab forces in the 1967 Six Day War. They also pre-emptively bombed a suspected nuclear plant in Iraq in 1981 and another in Syria last year. They have pre-emptively struck Lebanon and Gaza.

Israel goaded America into a pre-emptive war in Iraq, and they have urged another pre-emptive war with Iran. The entire philosophy of dealing with unfriendly nations is “strike first and destroy any potential enemy or threat”.

Regardless of the arguments made for invading Iraq, Article 51 of the UN Charter makes it clear that self-defence is restricted to a response to an armed attack”. Article 2, Section 4 of the U.N. Charter bars the threat or use of force against any state in the absence of an acute and imminent actual threat”.

Iraq, which had been under sanctions for 10 years, certainly could not have been considered an acute and imminent threat. Nor could Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Israelis. Iran, not having attacked anyone for 200 years, certainly does not qualify as an acute and imminent threat.

Noam Chomsky made a distinction between pre-emptive war and preventive war, though both are excuses for unwarranted aggression.

Whatever the justifications for pre-emptive war might be, they do not hold for preventive war, particularly as that concept is interpreted by its current enthusiasts: the use of military force to eliminate an invented or imagined threat, so that even the term “preventive” is too charitable. Preventive war is, very simply, the supreme crime that was condemned at Nuremberg.

The “potential enemy” may not be any more threat than I saw in your threatening look as we walked along the same street. However, that doesn’t matter if I am searching for threatening looks.

In another article, I referred to this Israeli sickness as paranoia. George W. Bush was infected with the same disease, which resulted in unnecessary and unjustified wars.

It’s time to admit that the Bush Doctrine was a grave, inhuman wrong. Barack Obama should strongly repudiate it and urge the US Congress to pass legislation that permits war only as a legitimate act of defence.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see

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