Feb 5, 2008

Brink Lindsey on preventive war and the Iraq War (2003)

So on the general question of preventive war -- whether to make war now in order to avoid a worse war later -- my position is: It depends on the circumstances. The decision whether to go to war should turn on a pragmatic assessment of relative risks. Sometimes the balance will tilt in favor of action, sometimes not. In the particular case of Iraq in 2002, I believe the balance tilts strongly toward action.

Accordingly, it seems to me that a no-exceptions policy against preventive war rests ultimately on an untenable assumption: that unrousable passivity on the part of the greatest and most powerful country that ever existed will somehow yield the most favorable achievable conditions in the world -- that, in an intricately interconnected world, leaving everything outside our physical borders to the wolves will ensure that everything turns out for the best.

I don't buy it. Hostile regimes bent on relentless expansion and pursuing weapons of mass destruction are a threat to global security. Hostile regimes that could put weapons of mass destruction into the hands of terrorists are a direct threat to the lives of Americans. If regimes fitting either of these descriptions don't change their ways, military action against them should be an option.

Brink Lindsey, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, "Should We Invade Iraq?," Reason, January 2003

No comments: