Preemptive Warfare the Concept of Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

A terrorist network does not seek legitimacy either, but acts without regard for human liberty, human rights, or international law. Terrorist networks speak only for themselves. While nation-states may support them through funding or providing safe havens, terrorist groups are not polities. They do not deserve the juridical considerations due to even the most rogue of nations. The rules for preemptive action must therefore be more flexible with regards to terrorism.

Rogue nations are also of particular concern for the United States today. Together with terrorism, rogue states pose "deadly challenges" to the United States," ("National Security Strategy," p. 13). Rogue states resemble terrorist networks in some ways: most notably by their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their blatant disregard for international law. Moreover, rogue states often work in tandem with terrorist networks. They may share intelligence, access to weapons, and sources of funding. Together, rogue states and terrorist networks present the most significant security problems for the United States today. Diplomacy is impossible when dealing with rogue nations as well as with terrorism because of the absence of basic moral dignity and trustworthiness that must exist in diplomatic communications.

Preemptive warfare is often the only reasonable solution to the dual problem of transnational terrorism and rogue nation-states. The White House National Security Strategy proclaims, "the greater the threat, the greater the risk of inaction, and the more compelling the call for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves," (p. 15). Rogue states and terrorist networks covet and cultivate WMDs including but not limited to nuclear weapons. The severity of the threat cannot be underestimated. In light of the possibility of a terrorist attack using WMDs, not taking preemptive action seems ridiculous.

September 11 drew attention to the severity of the threats against the United States. Since then, preemptive action has minimized the possibility of a future attack. Terrorist networks have been crippled and international security has become fortified. Iraq was a rogue state whose leader has been summarily convicted as a war criminal. Terrorist networks easily embed themselves in rogue states and thus, the destabilization of Iraq was part of an overall strategy using preemptive warfare. The invasion of Iraq was one of possibly several preemptive attacks in the global war on terror and the United States should continue to use preemptive warfare as part of its defense strategy. Preemptive warfare will nip problems in the bud, taking out terrorists before they can target innocent civilians.

Using a preemptive warfare strategy against rogue nations is sensible strategy for similar reasons. Rogue nations operate outside the boundaries of international law; their leaders terrorize their own citizens and seek to expand their locus of terror abroad. They do not announce their plans, and stand poised to attack at any time. Without a preemptive military strategy, rogue nations could gain the upper hand by acquiring WMDs on the black market and using them against American targets. The real possibility for such an attack has bolstered the efficacy of the Bush doctrine.

Most arguments against preemptive warfare are understandable but unsound in light of the dual threat of rogue states and trans-national terrorism. The war in Iraq was justified in spite of the faulty intelligence, as it will ultimately weaken the potential of terror networks to use Iraq as a base. Preemptive warfare has not been used indiscriminately, or else the United States would have also struck at targets throughout the world wherever terrorist cells are known to operate. Arguments against preemptive strikes often criticize American hegemony, but American hegemony makes global security possible. More than any other single nation, the United States has the potential to combat the worldwide threat of terrorism and will make the world a safer place.

The United States will continue to use non-combative means of preempting terrorist attacks. In fact, the United States continues to cultivate deeper networks with peaceful nations who also wish to extricate terrorism. Improved intelligence services and more specialized military officers will also contribute to the most reasonable solution to global terror.


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Kacerauskis, Vytautas. "Can a Member of the United Nations Unilaterally Decide to Use Preemptive Force Against Another State Without Violating the UN Charter?" International Journal of Baltic Law. 2(1), 2005.

National Security Strategy of the United States of America." White House. Retrieved April 21, 2007 at

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