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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 / 20 / 2017
E.g., 9 / 20 / 2017
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Issue 44

Preemptive Strikes and Preventive Wars

Background Essay

by Williamson Murray Tuesday, August 29, 2017
article

Featured Commentary

by Barry Strauss Tuesday, August 29, 2017
article
by Max Boot Tuesday, August 29, 2017
article

Related Commentary

by Kori Schake Thursday, August 10, 2017
article
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Issue 43

The Middle East: Terrorism Forever?

Background Essay

by Reuel Marc Gerecht Wednesday, July 26, 2017
article

Featured Commentary

by Bing West Wednesday, July 26, 2017
article
by Thomas Donnelly Wednesday, July 26, 2017
article
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Issue 42

Europe: Death or Renewal

Background Essay

by Erik Jones Tuesday, June 20, 2017
article

Featured Commentary

by Ralph Peters Tuesday, June 20, 2017
article
by Bruce Thornton Tuesday, June 20, 2017
article

Related Commentary

by Bruce Thornton Thursday, March 5, 2015
article
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Issue 41

Trump's China Challenge

Background Essay

by Gordon G. Chang Wednesday, May 17, 2017
article

Featured Commentary

by Miles Maochun Yu Wednesday, May 17, 2017
article

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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. 

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. 

Related Commentary

Considering Preemptive War

by Kori Schakevia Military History in the News
Thursday, August 10, 2017

President Trump set off a rhetorical hand grenade this week, threatening North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” The Secretary of State rushed to reassure Americans that there was no imminent threat and they could “sleep safe at night.”

Featured Commentary

Beyond The Terror War

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Since the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the story of the Middle East has been one of inconclusive struggles of the weak against the weak. That the Ottomans lasted as long as they did is in substantial measure a testament to the constant chaos of Arab and Persian politics. 

Featured Commentary

The Middle East: Terrorism Forever?

by Bing West via Strategika
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The short response is yes. Crime forever? Also, yes. Turbulence, terror, pestilence, famine, love, procreation, taxes, families, sunsets, rain, shine, etc.—all are components of the human condition. There is no arc toward perfection in human nature.

Background Essay

“Pushing Back” Iran

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia Strategika
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On both the left and the right, there is a consensus in Washington that the United States needs to “push back” against the Islamic Republic’s nefarious actions in the Levant, Iraq, and Yemen. The clerical regime largely controls the ground war in Syria: Tehran’s foreign Shiite militias, imported from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Iranian-directed native forces lead the battle against the Sunni insurrection. 

Featured Commentary

Europe Is Still Ailing

by Bruce Thorntonvia Strategika
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Recent elections in France, the Netherlands, and Austria, in which Eurosceptic populist and patriotic parties did poorly in national elections, suggest to some that the EU is still strong despite Britain’s vote to leave the union. Yet the problems bedeviling the EU ever since its beginnings in 1992 have not been solved. Nor are they likely to be with just some institutional tweaks and adjustments. “More Europe,” that is, greater centralization of power in Brussels at the expense of the national sovereignty of member states, is not the answer. 

Featured Commentary

State Of The European Union: God Bless The Bureaucrats

by Ralph Petersvia Strategika
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In the immediate wake of the Brexit vote, a normally astute talk-show host declared, gleefully, that “the European Union is dead.” One begged, and begs still, to differ. The EU is a bureaucratic monster that interferes absurdly with “the structures of everyday life.” Its grand rhetoric masks expensive inefficiencies and military powerlessness: In global affairs, it’s a chatroom. On the economic side, its attempt to establish a common currency, the Euro, was folly, unleashing some economies but debilitating others.

Background Essay

U.S. Foreign Policy and the Transatlantic Relationship

by Erik Jonesvia Strategika
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

As candidate, Donald Trump made a number of comments about the utility of the North Atlantic Alliance and about the virtues of European integration that left many in the establishment scratching their heads. When he was elected President of the United States, Trump did very little to soften his tone. On the contrary, the Trump White House floated the names of potential ambassadorial appointments who talked about the transatlantic relationship and the European Union in even more disparaging tones. 

Pages


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.