The Pre-emptive Strike Strategy
How to lose friends and then lose all
President Franklin DeLeano Roosevelt had the New Deal. President Harry S.Truman had the Truman Doctrine. President Lyndon Johnson had The War on Poverty. President George W. Bush has found a slogan. The American president declares the Pre-emptive Strike, a strategy to save America from its enemies. The new strategy is described by its components:
Make war rather than peace!
Make enemies rather than friends!
Manufacture words rather than deeds!
Produce economic harm rather than economic benefit!
Precipitate conflicts rather than negotiate disputes!
The Pre-emptive Strike Strategy
President Bush defined his new strategy--the United States is willing to act alone and to act preemptively against any adversary who challenges America's military superiority. "The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy--whether a state or non-state actor--to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends." The pre-emptive strike policy has obvious problems.
The vague wording (impose its will) and "open ended" commitment (defeat any attempt) signify that the leading military power of the world is set to return the globe to the brutal ages of "might makes right" and "might must maintain might." It also means that "allies" and "friends" can trip the United States into embarrassing positions of having to defend their own aggressions.
Lesser countries, such as Iran, that doesn't have sufficient military power to attack the United States without being obliterated within a few days and Iraq, that demonstrated it didn't have sufficient military power to attack the United States without being obliterated within a few days, are considered within the pre-emptive strike strategy. Why was Bush overly concerned with Iraq and is still overly concerned with Iran? Several existing major countries (Russia, China, France) have the power to inflict great harm before being defeated. Therefore, it behooves the major countries to quickly increase their military power and make alliances that present a strong counter-threat to any pre-emptive strike that is contemplated by the U.S. The U.S. policy weakens nations that cannot contest U.S. power. It forces the strengthening of military power by those who can contest U.S. unilateral approaches to world hegemony. As one example, Luiz daSilva, before he gained the Brazil presidency, stated:
Why is it that someone asks me to put down my weapons and keep a slingshot while he keeps a weapon pointed at me? What do we get from this? Brazil will only be respected in the world when it turns into an economic, technological and military power.
Past Brazilian governments ceased development of nuclear weapons. Luiz daSilva, although he has backtracked on his staements, indicated he may reverse the previous policy and produce a nuclear arsenal. The U.S. policy will provoke an armaments race that will threaten many regions and eventually the United States itself. Each time the pre-emptive strike threat halts armaments preparation in one country, it will trigger armaments preparations in other countries.
The preferred approach against terrorism is to contain it. Bush's strategy will expand the numbers, presence, and zone of terrorist support. Perceived unwarranted attacks on sovereign countries will anger a sufficient number of the attacked country's citizens to join in terrorist actions. Terrorist numbers will expand, the scope of terrorist actions will increase, and the area of terrorist support will grow. The war on terrorism will become endless and Americans will be doomed to an eternity of provocations.
Making enemies rather than friends
Throughout history the imposition of will by pre-emptive strikes generated post pre-emptive strike enemies. Leadership could only exist by vanquishing the continuous nourishment of enemies, a process which became endless.
In several engagements, Vietnam, Korea, Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States considered it fought responsibly. Those who suffered casualties claimed the U.S. had insufficient regard for enemy life. The Arab and Moslem world have been especially vociferous in reciting pains and sorrows inflicted upon them either directly or indirectly by American might. After making the Arab world feel that America is its enemy, George W. Bush has formalized an informal doctrine to overcome these "enemies." Question: Why make enemies and then formalize a doctrine to combat these enemies?
Making war rather than peace
Weapons of mass destruction have been controlled by treaties, and not by pre-emptive strikes. After carelessly allowing nuclear weapons to develop in many countries, nuclear proliferation has been halted. Obtaining and enforcing international agreements that roll back existing nuclear weapons and preventing additional nuclear weapons developments are more meaningful steps to preventing nuclear war than a pre-emptive strategy . Mutual deterrence actions have been successful in preventing nuclear warfare and nuclear blackmail. Nuclear weapons are the principal weapons of mass destruction. Other weapons, such as biological warfare are horrible weapons, but they are severely limited in their ranges of destruction.
A pre-emptive strike is only effective if it is totally brutal. It must destroy all enemy capability and make certain that the adversary can never recover and respond. Pre-emption proposes to completely subjugate a population and have it become inhabitants of a vassal state. The conquering nation controls the vassal state's aims and progress.
The United States waged a pre-emptive war against Iraq because America considered Saddam Hussein a menace to peace. Although this had not been proven, President Bush concluded that the best way to stop a "menace to peace" is by waging war and making sure there is no peace. If it is easy to wage war against a country which cannot effectively retaliate, since the country is too weak, why wage war? By default, the country is already powerless. This was certainly true of Iraq. What country would contemplate attacking the strongest country in the world, when after years of deprivation it remained at its weakest level?
Bush's pre-emptive policy is a rigid and formal version of previous informal policies. The United States has waged numerous pre-emptive strikes against nations--military actions against Vietnam, Libya, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Somalia are examples. In Somalia, history shows that what was characterized to be an effort to reduce famine (which had already almost disappeared) evolved into an effort to reduce the power of Mohammed Farah Aideed, one of the contenders for Somali leadership. These pre-emptive strikes greatly deteriorated American prestige. In several cases pre-emption greatly increased terrorism against the United States. Pre-emption has proved to be an immoral and ineffective policy.
Manufacturing words rather than deeds
The United States arouses contempt by trying to impose its economics, politics, myths and morality on others. The U.S. flaunted its democratic ideals when it felt it had easily defensible borders. After it learned that it was not immune from warlike attacks, America subdued many of its freedoms and ideals for protection. The world is beginning to perceive the United States as a country that uses public relations words to hide nefarious deeds. Under the subterfuge of attacking the problems in other countries, the U.S. has instead, directly and indirectly, attacked these countries. Engagements in Somalia, shellings of Lebanese territory, bombing of a Sudan factory, a decade of bombing of Iraq and eventual war against a hapless Iraq, supplying armaments to an Israeli government that oppresses Palestinians lead many individuals to question American words and to examine American deeds more closely.
Producing economic harm rather than economic benefit
In 2002, when the Bush administration proclaimed its strategy of pre-emptive strike, it didn't consider the effects on the global and American economies.
As hostility towards the pre-emptive strike strategy increases, faith in American values, American culture, and America's protection decreases. American prestige suffers. The price of the McDonald hamburger has become the standard for judging the cost of living in many countries. That can quickly change. Foreigners may retreat from American establishments--McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Disney World--out of fear of terrorist attacks in these establishments and from disdain of American practices. McDonalds restaurants have been atacked in Lebanon and in several other countries.
America's real and supposed enemies know they cannot confront U.S. military might. That doesn't mean they will succumb quickly to defeat. American military might depends upon American economic might and that can be attacked. The interdependence on foreign resources, investment and markets can deeply affect the American economy. Economic warfare is a strategy that can be adopted by those affected by the pre-emptive strategy . The pre-emptive strike strategy anticipates a counter strategy of economic warfare to contain the United States.
Precipitating conflicts rather than negotiating disputes
An economically, morally, physically, and spiritually strong country doesn't need to solve international problems by pre-emptive military adventures. It can leverage its advantages and apply social, economic and psychological pressures before applying muscular pressure. The moral imperative demands understanding and conciliation before attack. The pre-emptive strike, by definition, gives no time to weigh the options.
America already waged a pre-emptive war in Vietnam; the pre-emptive reason being to contain the spread of communism. The strategy failed entirely and yet nothing externally happened to the United States. Vietnam became totally communist, and communism didn't spread to other Southeast Asian nations. Vietnam never made the United States an enemy and treats the United States as a friend.
Is Bush pretending that his government, which had already failed the people by neglecting intelligence before the September 11 terrorist action, is trying to do all it can to protect its people? Something is wrong. The U.S. government has formalized a radical policy to solve supposed problems before using established policies to resolve already known problems. The government has declared that the war on terrorism is going well and yet has proposed a new course of action before the war on terrorism has been completed.
Bush perceives himself as rescuing America from its enemies. If history serves as a guide for the effectiveness of the pre-emptive strike strategy, Bush might destroy America--politically, economically and morally--before he destroys all of America's enemies. Sadly, the United States might become the biggest dotcom failure of all times.
october 1, 2002
updated March, 2005
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