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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
Poster Collection, INT 503, Hoover Institution Archives
Saturday, March 1, 2014

Issue 12

What Will Afghanistan Look Like Following the Final U.S. Withdrawal in 2014?

Background Essay

by Max Boot Saturday, March 1, 2014
article

Featured Commentary

by Kimberly Kagan Saturday, March 1, 2014
article
by Bing West Saturday, March 1, 2014
article
by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.) Saturday, March 1, 2014
article

Related Commentary

by Mark Moyar Saturday, March 1, 2014
article
by Thomas Donnelly Saturday, March 1, 2014
article
Poster Collection, CC 75, Hoover Institution Archives.
Saturday, February 1, 2014

Issue 11

Does China pose an immediate threat to U.S. strategic interests and, if so, will the envisioned Asian pivot address such concerns?

Background Essay

by Edward N. Luttwak Saturday, February 1, 2014
article

Featured Commentary

by Admiral Gary Roughead Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Ian Morris Saturday, February 1, 2014
article

Related Commentary

by Bruce Thornton Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Barry Strauss Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Ralph Peters Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Williamson Murray Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Josef Joffe Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Thomas Donnelly Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Saturday, February 1, 2014
article
Hoover Archives poster collection: UK 2756
Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Issue 10

Do drones present new military opportunities or are they simply an updated technological variant of age-old weapons and tactics?

Background Essay

by Thomas Donnelly Wednesday, January 1, 2014
article

Featured Commentary

by Kenneth Anderson, Benjamin Wittes Wednesday, January 1, 2014
article
by Mark Moyar Wednesday, January 1, 2014
article

Related Commentary

by Admiral Gary Roughead Sunday, December 1, 2013
article
by Peter R. Mansoor Sunday, December 1, 2013
article
by Frederick W. Kagan Sunday, December 1, 2013
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Sunday, December 1, 2013
article
by Benjamin Wittes Sunday, December 1, 2013
article
Poster Collection, TU 28, Hoover Institution Archives
Sunday, December 1, 2013

Issue 09

Is our NATO ally Turkey emerging as a regional power that is hostile, neutral, or can remain a partner to American strategic concerns?

Background Essay

by Barry Strauss Sunday, December 1, 2013
article

Featured Commentary

by Walter Russell Mead Sunday, December 1, 2013
article
by Williamson Murray Sunday, December 1, 2013
article

Related Commentary

by Victor Davis Hanson Monday, November 18, 2013
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Monday, November 18, 2013
article
by Edward N. Luttwak Monday, November 18, 2013
article

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Featured Commentary

Sustaining Military Readiness—The Devil Is In The Details

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

Today’s global security crystal ball is murky, but a safe assumption is that the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe will remain unsettled and nests of terrorist activity, motivation, and recruitment; with sanctions lifted Iran’s conventional military re-emergence in the region will further challenge the security environment in the Middle East; Northeast Asian allies, China, and the U.S. will continue to react to an unpredictable regime in North Korea.

Related Commentary

The Growing Temptation to Threaten America

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

For the foreseeable future, no single power, nor even axis or alliance of rival powers, can hope to match the range of financial power or technological expertise—either expertise measured in narrowly military terms or more broadly—of the United States. The world still waits with baited breath for the Federal Reserve to set what are, in effect, global interest rates. 

Featured Commentary

Readiness Writ Large

by James O. Ellis Jr. via Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

In the years immediately following the (first) end of the Cold War, the search for elusive readiness metrics in the Department of Defense was all-consuming. As the pressures mounted, first to write and then to cash the “peace dividend” check, policy pronouncements were made and working groups and war rooms were established, all asserting the existence of and searching for the Holy Grail: a suite of detailed readiness metrics that could precisely detail the impact of every procurement dollar cut and every training event curtailed. 

Background Essay

The Readiness Vortex

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

For the past several years, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been painting a bleak portrait of the state of the armed services. Testifying to the senate Armed Services Committee in January 2015, recently retired Army chief Gen. Ray Odierno admitted that Army readiness “has been degraded to its lowest level in 20 years.” This year, Odierno’s successor, Gen. Mark Milley, went farther: the Army is not well prepared to engage a major power. “If we got into a conflict with Russia then I think it would place our soldiers’ lives at risk,” he said. 

Related Commentary

Iran's War Against America

by Bruce Thorntonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

For thirty years, we have misread the beliefs that motivate the mullahs. 

Featured Commentary

America Entered Into A Raw Deal With Iran

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

On January 16, 2016, governments in Europe and America ended the sanctions they had imposed on Iran (the U.S. since 1979, Europe since 2007 and increasingly since 2012) for reasons internal to themselves. Iran had not changed the behavior that had led to the imposition of sanctions—neither its nuclear program nor its leadership of the Shia side in the current round of the Sunni-Shia war. 

Featured Commentary

U.S. Elections And The Future Of The Iran Nuclear Deal

by Max Bootvia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

January 16, 2016, was a milestone in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was the day that the nuclear deal with the United States was implemented and most sanctions on Iran were lifted. Iran immediately received access to more than $100 billion in frozen oil funds, and that’s only the beginning of the bonanza. 

Background Essay

Legitimacy Rests In Iranian Hands

by Kori Schakevia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

Whether Iran succeeds in gaining legitimacy with Europe and the United States after the end of sanctions by the West may have less to do with choices by the Western countries and more to do with internal Iranian politics. All of the parties to the Iranian nuclear deal want to provide that legitimacy; but Iran’s opaque internecine politics may get in the way.

Featured Commentary

Why ISIS Is Different—And Why It Matters

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Strategika
Monday, February 1, 2016

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is the modern face of terror. Unlike al-Qaeda, the Irish Republican Army, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Maoists in India, the Shining Path, and other traditional terrorist organizations, ISIS refuses to lurk in the shadows. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas, the Tamil Tigers, or the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, ISIS is not content with controlling a limited amount of territory confined to a single nation-state. 

Background Essay

Typologies Of Terrorism

by Mark Moyarvia Strategika
Monday, February 1, 2016

The term “terrorism” is commonly understood as political violence outside the norms of conflicts between states. Terrorism’s victims can be innocent civilians, or they can be political officials or even soldiers. More controversial is the term “terrorist.” 

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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.