Future Challenges: Obfuscation and Candor Self-Defense & Limits of WMD Intelligence

Monday, June 14, 2010

Then-candidate Obama stated during the 2008 campaign that "the experience of Iraq underscores that often perceived threats are not as real [as] they may seem, and our intelligence may be imperfect. But, when our intelligence is good and defensible we should not rule out the use of force." This essay concerns ways of assessing legally whether that intelligence is sufficiently good and defensible. It argues that a reasonable necessity approach to the use of force against WMD threats—and with it an objective standard of assessing WMD capabilities—operating as a narrow alternative to U.N. Security Council authorization, can best balance and allocate competing risks.