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Tuesday night owls open thread: Preventive war is not self defense. It’s aggression

US President Donald Trump(L) speaks next to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a Cabinet Meeting at the White House on October 21, 2019 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Pompeo (to himself): Don’t call him a moron. Remember what happened to Rex.

From Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others, we keep hearing the killing of Gen. Qassim Soleimani was a preemptive attack. It was not. At best, it was a preventive attack. International law allows for preemptive attacks as self defense. A foe is getting ready to attack imminently, and the leaders of the target nation strike first. Nobody disputes that every nation-state has the right of self-defense. A preventive attack, on the other hand, is one in which a nation’s leaders think a foe will attack, someday, someway, somehow, maybe. The Bush Doctrine enshrined preventive war as legit. It’s not. From a Rand study:

Preemptive attacks are based on the belief that the adversary is about to attack, and that striking first will be better than allowing the enemy to do so. Preemption may be attractive because it promises to make the difference between victory and defeat, or merely because it will make the ensuing conflict less damaging than it would be if the enemy struck first. Preemptive attacks are quite rare, though the possibility of preemption was a central concern of nuclear strategists during the Cold War; the archetypical example is Israel’s attack against Egypt in 1967 that began the Six-Day War.

Preventive attacks are launched in response to less immediate threats. Preventive attack is motivated not by the desire to strike first rather than second, but by the desire to fight sooner rather than later.Usually this is because the balance of military capabilities is expected to shift in the enemy’s favor, due to differential rates of growth or armament, or the prospect that the opponent will acquire or develop a powerful new offensive or defensive capability. Israel’s 1981 raid on the Osirak nuclear facility was a classic preventive attack, as was Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Preemptive and preventive attacks have important differences; in addition to those already noted, international law holds that truly preemptive attacks are an acceptable use of force in self-defense, while preventive attacks usually are not.

[My emphasis—MB]

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“‘Truth,’ it has been said, ‘is the first casualty of war.'”
~~Phillip Snowden, Truth and the War (1918)

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—The “Mac is Back” Tour:

This was the question as the posted start time for the Hanover stop of John McCain’s “the Mac is back” tour approached: Would McCain circa T Minus 1 outdraw Biden circa T Minus 9 Months?

McCain would be appearing in the Dartmouth College room Biden spoke in last spring, but his staff had used curtains to block off maybe one third of the room for McCain and his audience, and were frantically urging attendees to move toward the small stage that had been set up. In the end, McCain did outdraw Biden somewhat, and one of the curtains was removed. But en route to that moment, the McCain campaign revealed the stagecraft of campaign events more blatantly than I have ever seen, revealing in the process that they wanted the crowd to be uncomfortable if it would look good for the cameras. So people were forced to stand in a room that could have accommodated them in chairs, and harangued to crowd together long before the candidate arrived, and forced to listen to some of the same godawful songs more than once due to McCain’s lateness. One man even took a break from urging people toward the stage and tried to lead them in call-and-response cheers. (“Who do we want for straight talk? McCain!” etc – he gave up pretty quickly.)

Despite the view of the McCain supporters standing next to me that, being a military man, he would surely be on time, McCain, wife Cindy, and the governor of Vermont were nearly 40 minutes later than his planned arrival time (as opposed to the posted start time, 15 minutes before that). Delivery of the line “without a doubt, Mac is back” fell to Governor Douglas, who then had to encourage the crowd to applaud policy items such as middle-class tax relief but found applause came easier for the hoary old “straight talker” line. Cindy McCain did the feminized relational work of apologizing for their lateness, and then McCain took the microphone. For like fifteen minutes.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Ian Reifowitz expands on his Sunday essay on the recent spike in anti-Semitic attacks, now coming from at least two distinct directions. And what better time to find out that there is no law, after all? Which the Soleimani assassination will sadly reconfirm.

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Source: Daily Kos

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