‘Will Not Hesitate’
The doctrine says the U.S. “will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively.
“In an age where enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather,” the doctrine says.
Some defense policy analysts say the doctrine should be amended or minimized.
“That doctrine was always at odds with international law and norms,” said James Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The doctrine is now “dead” after the invasion of Iraq, when the U.S. in March 2003 launched a “preventive war” to eradicate “the threat of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist,” he said.
James Mann, an author in residence at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said the doctrine “was presented as not just the ‘right’” to strike “before you are about to be attacked, but as an entirely new strategy for dealing with the world.”
“I don’t think the Obama people believe preemption should be defined in this incredibly broad sense — and I think they feel — with some reason — the broad definition really lost American support in the rest of the world,” said Mann, author of “Rise of the Vulcans,” a 2004 history of Bush’s war cabinet.
Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst at the non-partisan Brookings Institution in Washington, said “the clear challenge for this administration is to find a balance between retaining the right, in extremis, to preempt, while avoiding association with the Bush administration.”
“The only solution is to try to downplay this option and say it will be reserved for the most extreme cases and even then pursued only with as much international backing and legitimacy as possible,” O’Hanlon said.