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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
Hoover Archives Poster collection: FR 1145
Saturday, November 2, 2013

Issue 08

Is Russia now an enemy, neutral, irrelevant to U.S. strategic interests, or a possible partner with shared concerns?

Background Essay

by Edward N. Luttwak Friday, November 1, 2013
article

Featured Commentary

by Kiron K. Skinner Friday, November 1, 2013
article
by Ralph Peters Friday, November 1, 2013
article

Related Commentary

by Victor Davis Hanson Friday, November 1, 2013
article
by Bruce Thornton Friday, November 1, 2013
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Friday, November 1, 2013
article
Poster Collection, UK 2798, Hoover Institution Archives.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Issue 07

Is there any chance that Europe, either in common or in terms of individual European nations–in particular Britain, France, or Germany–will recoup its military capability?

Background Essay

by Andrew Roberts Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article

Featured Commentary

by Josef Joffe Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Angelo M. Codevilla Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article

Related Commentary

by Bing West Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Bruce Thornton Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Ralph Peters Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Victor Davis Hanson Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Josef Joffe Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Williamson Murray Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Kori Schake Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
by Gil-li Vardi Tuesday, October 1, 2013
article
African Pictorial Collection, Box 2, Hoover Institution Archives.
Sunday, September 1, 2013

Issue 06

Will the Arab Spring offer any improvement, either domestically or internationally, over what it has replaced?

Background Essay

by Frederick W. Kagan Sunday, September 1, 2013
article

Featured Commentary

by Andrew Roberts Sunday, September 1, 2013
article
by Bing West Sunday, September 1, 2013
article
Hoover Archives Poster collection: CC 137, Celebration of the occupation of Sout
Thursday, August 1, 2013

Issue 05

What exactly are the strategic aims that North Korea hopes to achieve by the possession of a few deployable nuclear weapons?
by Thomas Donnelly Thursday, August 1, 2013
article
by Victor Davis Hanson Thursday, August 1, 2013
article
by Bruce Thornton Thursday, August 1, 2013
article
by Walter Russell Mead Thursday, August 1, 2013
article
by Barry Strauss Thursday, August 1, 2013
article

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Featured Commentary

ISIS: The Latest Phase Of The Jihad

by Raymond Ibrahimvia Strategika
Monday, February 1, 2016

The best way to understand the Islamic State (ISIS) is to see it as the next phase of al-Qaeda. All Sunni Islamic jihadi groups—Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda, even Hamas—share the same motivations based on a literal and orthodox reading of Islamic history and doctrine: resurrecting a caliphate (which existed in various forms from 632 to 1924) that implements and spreads the totality of sharia, or Islamic law.

Related Commentary

The Federal Republic of Germany: No Nukes, now or ever

by Josiah Bunting IIIvia Strategika
Friday, December 4, 2015

In 1997, the writer spent several weeks at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, exploring a possible exchange of cadets with the Virginia Military Institute.

Featured Commentary

A Non-nuclear Germany: Today, Tomorrow, Forever

by Josef Joffevia Strategika
Friday, December 4, 2015

Those who used to worry endlessly about the “N + 1” problem—rampant proliferation—in the Sixties would be quite surprised some fifty years later. As the consensus of the strategic community had it at the time, there were some twenty countries with the industrial base capable of building nuclear weapons—and would do so in short order.

Featured Commentary

Nuclear Germany: Could The Impossible Become The Inevitable?

by Russell A. Bermanvia Strategika
Friday, December 4, 2015

Drawing on the older traditions of the Prussian army, nineteenth-century Germany grew into a formidable military power, and during the twentieth century it nearly dominated Europe. It took two world wars to defeat Germany and to contain its aggressive ambitions.

Background Essay

No German Bomb—At Least For Now

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Friday, December 4, 2015

This past September, the U.S. Air Force introduced a cache of 20 new B61-12 nuclear bombs to the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base in western Germany. The upgrade, part of the NATO program on nuclear “sharing,” replaced a higher-yield version of the venerable B61 with a less destructive weapon, but it nonetheless sparked protest by opposition parties in Germany.

Nuclear bomb's tell-tale mushroom cloud
Related Commentary

Meet The Missile Challenge With The Anti-Missile Response

by Bruce Thorntonvia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

Challenge and response has been the dynamic of warfare since the beginning of civilization.

Featured Commentary

It’s Mad To Forgo Missile Defense

by Frederick W. Kaganvia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

American thinking about missile defense has been incoherent from the very beginning. The issue is superficially simple: the Soviet Union threatened the American people with nuclear missiles, so the U.S. should naturally have tried to defend them against those missiles.

Featured Commentary

The Pragmatics Of Missile Defense

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense, as originally conceived in the 1950s and 1960s, was a Cold War era answer to the nightmare of Mutually Assured Destruction, the linchpin of Soviet and American deterrence.

Background Essay

Missile Defense: Past, Present, And Future

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

A new era of modern warfare began when German V-2 missiles hit London in September 1944. Within the next few years, the U.S. military was issuing reports on how to proceed in the development of defensive counters to ballistic missiles.

Strategika: “Arms Control, Ancient and Modern” With Barry Strauss

interview with Barry Strauss via Strategika
Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Chronicling the history of efforts to restrain violence.

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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.