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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 / 24 / 2017
E.g., 9 / 24 / 2017
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Issue 24

Are carrier groups, traditional fighter wings, and infantry divisions anachronistic or will they remain timeless assets in both conventional and unconventional warfare of the future?

Background Essay

by Thomas Donnelly Tuesday, June 16, 2015
article

Featured Commentary

by Max Boot Tuesday, June 16, 2015
article
by Bing West Tuesday, June 16, 2015
article

Related Commentary

by Frederick W. Kagan Tuesday, June 16, 2015
article
by Thomas Donnelly Tuesday, June 16, 2015
article
by Williamson Murray Tuesday, June 16, 2015
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by Max Boot Tuesday, June 16, 2015
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by Mark Moyar Tuesday, June 16, 2015
article
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Issue 23

Will NATO survive as a credible alliance - and should it?

Background Essay

by Peter R. Mansoor Tuesday, May 12, 2015
article

Featured Commentary

by Josef Joffe Tuesday, May 12, 2015
article
by Ken Jowitt Tuesday, May 12, 2015
article

Related Commentary

by Ralph Peters Tuesday, May 12, 2015
article
by Bing West Wednesday, May 27, 2015
article
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Issue 22

How will new gas and oil production affect, if at all, America’s military and geostrategic role abroad?

Background Essay

by Williamson Murray Wednesday, March 25, 2015
article

Featured Commentary

by Kori Schake Thursday, March 26, 2015
article
by Walter Russell Mead Thursday, March 26, 2015
article

Related Commentary

by Victor Davis Hanson Monday, March 30, 2015
article
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Issue 21

What additional future steps should the United States and Europe take, if any at all, to counter Russian ambitions?

Background Essay

by Victor Davis Hanson Thursday, February 26, 2015
article

Featured Commentary

by Paul R. Gregory Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article

Related Commentary

by Max Boot Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Frederick W. Kagan Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Peter R. Mansoor Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Williamson Murray Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Ralph Peters Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article
by Barry Strauss Wednesday, February 18, 2015
article

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Strategika: "Terrorism, In Perspective,” With Williamson Murray

interview with Williamson Murrayvia Strategika
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
While America hasn’t seen another attack on the scale of 9/11, the possibility of a devastating terrorist strike remains.

Strategika: "The Legacy of 9/11," with Peter Mansoor

interview with Peter R. Mansoorvia Strategika
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fifteen years later, how have the September 11 attacks shaped the West's response to the threat of terrorism.

Strategika: “Underestimating Our Enemies,” With Ralph Peters

interview with Ralph Petersvia Strategika
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How the foreign policy establishment systematically misunderstands the threat from jihadism.

Related Commentary

Terrorism From Within

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Monday, August 15, 2016

On September 11, 2001, specifically the moment passengers on UA93 learned that three other hijacked liners had been crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. forever ceased to be vulnerable to such hijackings. Never again would passengers follow the FAA’s regulation not to interfere with hijackers. Not ISIS or anyone else can change that.

Featured Commentary

Terrorism At Home And Abroad

by Williamson Murrayvia Strategika
Monday, August 15, 2016

Despite the enthusiasm of those media purveyors of horror stories about potential terrorist threats that could match the events of 9/11, it is unlikely, at least for the short term, that ISIS is capable of matching al-Qaeda’s bloody success. That said, there are innumerable ways in which its leaders will attempt to create mayhem, disorder, and paranoia in the developed world and the United States in particular. 

Background Essay

Is Another 9/11 Possible?

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Strategika
Monday, August 15, 2016

At 8:46 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Egyptian terrorist Mohammed Atta and four Saudi accomplices flew hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing all 92 passengers and crew on board as well as hundreds more inside the building. 

Related Commentary

As The Primary Target, We Must Not Be Caught Off Guard

by Max Bootvia Strategika
Monday, August 15, 2016

From all that can be gleaned from the record of the past fourteen plus-years, the U.S. appears to be less vulnerable to another mass-casualty attack than it was on 9/11. There have been some thwarted attempts to carry out large-scale attacks since 2001—e.g., Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian “underwear bomber” tried to blow up an airplane en route to Detroit in 2009, an attack, which, if successful, would have killed 290 people.

Featured Commentary

The Next 9/11: Bigger Or Just Better? The Desire Is There, The Capabilities Are Unknown

by Ralph Petersvia Strategika
Monday, August 15, 2016

Whether or not Islamist terrorists prove capable of executing another attack on the United States on the scale of the strikes of September 11, 2001, we would be foolish to assume they can’t. The desire remains, while the bloodlust and the passion have only intensified. The willingness to sacrifice their lives to do us harm is indisputable. We are more vigilant and—somewhat—less willfully naïve, and grand attacks on the homeland are harder to stage today, but the price of deterrence is high in economic costs, resources, and diverted energies.

Related Commentary

How To Counter The Putin Playbook

by Michael McFaulvia The New York Times
Saturday, July 30, 2016

A quarter-century ago, at the end of the Cold War, it seemed that only democracies promoted their values abroad. Today, autocracies have entered the arena again, exporting their ideas and methods — even to the United States.

Featured Commentary

Unity, Strategy, And Will

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Friday, July 1, 2016

The meaning of any nation’s membership in or departure from any “union” or alliance, especially with regard to geopolitical strategies, depends entirely on the nature and degree of that unity or alliance—in short, on the extent to which these represent a common will. History teaches that international organizations, ranging from formal “unions” to informal alliances, tend to obscure the members’ differing wills, and to be hindrances to rational strategizing, individual and collective.

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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.