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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Issue 44

Preemptive Strikes and Preventive Wars
Background Essay
Background Essay

Preemptive Strike Or Preventive War?

by Williamson Murrayvia Strategika
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

With the troubles bubbling over on the Korean Peninsula, as the North Korean regime approaches possession of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of striking the United States, two words, preemptive and preventive, have gained increasing currency. While similar in meaning, their context is crucial in understanding their applicability to the current crisis. And here, as is so often the case, history is a useful tool in thinking through the possibilities. 

Featured Commentary
Featured Commentary

Preemptive Strikes and Preventive Wars: A Historian’s Perspective

by Barry Strauss via Strategika
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Preventive wars and preemptive strikes are both risky business. A preventive war is a military, diplomatic, and strategic endeavor, aimed at an enemy whom one expects to grow so strong that delay would cause defeat. A preemptive strike is a military operation or series of operations to preempt an enemy’s ability to attack you. In both cases, a government judges a diplomatic solution impossible.

Featured Commentary

Calculating The Risk Of Preventive War

by Max Bootvia Strategika
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The issue of “preemptive” war is more in the news now than at any time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The impetus, of course, is the rapid development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which will soon give Pyongyang the capability to hit any American city with a nuclear-tipped ICBM. President Trump has been threatening “fire and fury” in response, and warning that the United States is “locked and loaded” for war. 

E.g., 9 / 19 / 2017
E.g., 9 / 19 / 2017
Friday, May 27, 2016

Issue 32

New Perspectives on the Iran Deal
Friday, April 29, 2016

Issue 31

U.S. Military Readiness

Background Essay

by Thomas Donnelly Friday, April 29, 2016
article

Featured Commentary

by Admiral Gary Roughead Friday, April 29, 2016
article
by James O. Ellis Jr. Friday, April 29, 2016
article

Related Commentary

by Thomas Donnelly Friday, April 29, 2016
article
by Ralph Peters Friday, April 29, 2016
article
by Bing West Friday, April 29, 2016
article
by Miles Maochun Yu Friday, April 29, 2016
article
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Issue 30

After the end of sanctions by the West, will Iran succeed in its efforts to find state legitimacy with Europe and the United States?

Background Essay

by Kori Schake Monday, March 14, 2016
article

Featured Commentary

by Angelo M. Codevilla Monday, March 14, 2016
article
by Max Boot Monday, March 14, 2016
article

Related Commentary

by Bruce Thornton Wednesday, March 16, 2016
article
Monday, February 1, 2016

Issue 29

Does ISIS really differ from other terrorist groups; if so, how does its singularity complicate U.S. efforts to defeat it?

Background Essay

by Mark Moyar Monday, February 1, 2016
article

Featured Commentary

by Peter R. Mansoor Monday, February 1, 2016
article
by Raymond Ibrahim Monday, February 1, 2016
article

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Featured Commentary

Putinism or Nationalism? Neither. Opportunism

by Josef Joffevia Strategika
Thursday, December 8, 2016

“All politics is local” works in the international arena, too. Shakespeare put it well in Henry IV Part II (4.3.343-345) when the king counseled his son and successor: “Be it thy course, dear Harry, to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels.”

Featured Commentary

Russia Is Fighting For Relevance, Not Dominance

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Strategika
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Prevalent in many western capitals is the narrative that Vladimir Putin is striving to regain dominance of the “lost” Soviet empire, and his aggressive behavior in Ukraine—especially his blatant annexation of Crimea in March 2014—is just the beginning of a great Russian advance toward another Pax Russiana.

Background Essay

Vladimir Putin and The Russian Soul

by Ralph Petersvia Strategika
Thursday, December 8, 2016

A skilled miner is useless without a seam of ore. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, czar in all but name, has a genius for mining the ore of Russian nationalism, but the crucial factor is that the ore was there, waiting to be exploited. A ruler perfectly fitted to Russian tradition, Putin is the right man at the right time to dig up Russia’s baleful obsessions, messianic delusions, and aggressive impulses.

Related Commentary

Trump's Russia "Reset"?

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Expect the new president to adopt a realpolitik stance toward Vladimir Putin.

Related Commentary

Cleaning Up The Mess

by Andrew Robertsvia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

It is one of the glories of the U.S. Constitution that although presidential administrations must abide by the laws made by previous ones until they are repealed, foreign policy initiatives that are unworthy of a great nation can be discarded almost immediately. This is what will happen in November next year; indeed, the Obama administration’s keenness to argue that the Iranian nuclear deal did not constitute a formal treaty—in order to prevent the Senate from debating and perhaps refusing to ratify it—will make it all the easier for an incoming administration to denounce it. 

Related Commentary

Obama’s Foreign Policy: No Easy Fix

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

All of the Obama administration’s strategic initiatives will have lives that endure beyond the next president’s term, and three of them are quite likely to have even more profound effects.

Related Commentary

Time To Dump The Baby—And The Bathwater

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

The premise that the current foreign policy’s major features (e.g., Iran deal, tergiversation regarding ISIS, etc.) are peculiar to the Obama administration is mistaken. In fact, these policies are manifestations or extrapolations of attitudes longstanding and pervasive among U.S. policymakers of both parties. As such, they are sure to transcend Obama. They will characterize U.S. foreign policy unless and until these officials, academics, and media figures are replaced by persons with different mentalities.

Featured Commentary

From Leading From Behind To Fighting On The Frontier

by Barry Strauss via Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

Every empire or great power, no matter how interventionist it is, undergoes periods of retrenchment. For example, after the Roman emperor Trajan (r. A.D. 98-117) conquered Dacia (Romania) and fought an exhausting, at first successful but ultimately failed war in Mesopotamia (Iraq), his successor Hadrian (r. A.D. 117-138) pulled back. Hadrian accepted defeat in Mesopotamia, gave up part of Dacia, and put the empire on a defensive footing. 

Featured Commentary

Foreign Policy Course Correction

by Thomas H. Henriksenvia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

Barack Obama’s retrenchment policies may be unprecedented in degree, but not in kind. Other presidents have implemented pullbacks from an overseas engagement, usually after a war. These retreats have all been followed by pendulum swings back toward re-engagement. This pattern will, no doubt, hold after Obama. Historical determinism does not account for the oscillations, which are instead due to partisanship between the major political parties, domestic considerations, and ideological convictions of the commanders-in-chief as well as the need for course corrections.

Background Essay

Leaving Behind “Leading From Behind”

by Mark Moyarvia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned as a foreign policy moderate, wary of the aggressive interventionism of the George W. Bush administration but willing to take on a leading role for America in combating particularly ominous threats. While promising to pull the remaining American forces out of Iraq, he vowed to send additional troops to Afghanistan. He said that he would collaborate with other nations to a greater extent than Bush, but at the same time served notice that he would act unilaterally when vital U.S. interests were at stake.

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The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict strives to reaffirm the Hoover Institution's dedication to historical research in light of contemporary challenges, and in particular, reinvigorating the national study of military history as an asset to foster and enhance our national security. Read more.

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Strategika is an online journal that analyzes ongoing issues of national security in light of conflicts of the past—the efforts of the Military History Working Group of historians, analysts, and military personnel focusing on military history and contemporary conflict.

Our board of scholars shares no ideological consensus other than a general acknowledgment that human nature is largely unchanging. Consequently, the study of past wars can offer us tragic guidance about present conflicts—a preferable approach to the more popular therapeutic assumption that contemporary efforts to ensure the perfectibility of mankind eventually will lead to eternal peace. New technologies, methodologies, and protocols come and go; the larger tactical and strategic assumptions that guide them remain mostly the same—a fact discernable only through the study of history.

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The opinions expressed in Strategika are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hoover Institution or Stanford University.