Foriegn Policy Meanderings......
B/c of the recent attacks in Chechnya and elsewhere, russian pres. putin has invoked the "made in the USA" idea of pre-emptive strikes against possible terrorist outfits (i.e. ''As for carrying out preventive strikes against terrorist bases . . . we will take all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world").
Now, I'm not one to take hard stances on things, but this foriegn policy doctrine that started with the U.S. invasion of Iraq seems to be nothing but bad news. Assume, for argument's sake, that the U.S. Government recieved intelligence adequate to justify preemptive invasion on a certain country; assume too that they only invoke this doctrine when it's absolutly essential. Even with these generous, though not implausible, assumptions the doctrine just fails. Here's why:
1.) We can't impose a double standard on other countries who might not have justifiable motives. Say, for example, China invades and annexes Mongolia because they have received "intelligence" that Mongolia is a threat. What international agency (like the U.S. would subscribe to that anyway) is going to determine what qualifies as a justifable threat? But, it's circular (not to mention dangerous) to say a threat is what any government determines its threats to be.
2.) Assessing threats that need to be preempted belongs to the intelligence community; and until we can be assured that only "good" intellegence will be taken into account for such decisions, there's no way to tell whether preemptives strikes are really necessary.
The problem is that, in some cases, I can see why a preemptive attack could be necessary and even good, but can anyone come up with a way to justify this doctrine without letting in those pesky, and very dangerous, side-effects?