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PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE: The Bush doctrine essentially says that if anyone is even thinking of attacking

November 3, 2008

Summary:"the right of self-defense has always been understood to include the possibility of preemptive self-defense. Hugo Grotius, the 17th century Dutch philosopher who laid the foundations for international law, wrote that 'it be lawful to kill him who is preparing to kill,' although he also acknowledged that this principle could be dangerous" (Joshua Muravchik). George W. Bush said this had to be understood more broadly: "We will not allow the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most dangerous weapons." Muravchik, a scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, says critics argued that "Bush was advocating not preemption but 'preventive war.' They said that using force to deny another state the capability to attack you was far different from using force to thwart an imminent attack. They asked what would be the limits of such a right, and to this Bush had no ready answer." Neocon Muravchik concludes, "The evolution of our thinking about these issues will be at the forefront of the debate as Washington moves closer to a preemptive (or 'preventive') strike against Iran's nuclear program." The Department of Defense also calls this a "pre-emptive counterattack," in other words, counterattacking before being attacked, which, linguistically speaking, is an error. The Bush doctrine essentially says that if anyone is even thinking of attacking us, we can attack them. Asked at a Connecticut primary event whether he would reject the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, John McCain answered, “If someone is about to launch a weapon that would devastate America, or have the capability to do so, obviously, you would have to act immediately in defense of this nation’s national security interests.”

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