Thinking ahead is one thing. Pre-emptive thinking is paranoia run wild.
Pre-emptive strikes were something unheard of prior to Israel’s using them to cripple any power in the Middle East that might eventually be used against Israel. This was certainly the case in Israel’s bombing of a nuclear reactor in Iraq.
The reasoning that sanctioned such a strike went like this: Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, is an Israeli antagonist. Iraq would therefore destroy Israel if it had an opportunity to do so. The acquisition of nuclear power would ultimately give Iraq the opportunity to destroy Israel.
The flaws in that reasoning have rarely been effectively analyzed; and if they have, they’ve been ignored. Thus, what the Israelis called a pre-emptive strike was no less than an attack as vicious to Iraq as the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was to America. Iraq, unlike America however, was in no position to respond to that attack.
What are the flaws in the reasoning behind Israel’s attack? First and foremost, it ignored the reasons for Iraq’s antagonism toward Israel, and that was Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the lands occupied by the Israelis.
Next, and most importantly, even if Iraq developed a nuclear warhead capability from a nuclear reactor capacity, they would hardly use that capability to bomb Israeli occupied Palestine. Such an act would not only damage Israel; it would kill and injure more Palestinians than Israelis.
Now, the same kind of reasoning has again taken hold of the US government. According to this, the best defence is a good offense.
Defending the U.S. requires prevention, self-defence and sometimes pre-emption,
explained the Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld on January 31, 2002.
Defending against terrorism and other emerging 21st-century threats may well require that we take the war to the enemy. The best, and in some cases, the only defence is a good offense.
Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney publicly applauded Israel’s destruction of the Iraqi reactor. Cheney’s comments were made at the height of the Gulf War.
What has the US been planning to defend against with offensive, pre-emptive strikes against Iraq or Iran or North Korea, the countries labelled by Bush Jr. as the “Axis of Evil”?
None of the September 11th disaster can be attributed to any of these countries.
What has the US been defending against? A nuclear attack against the US by Iraq? An Iranian invasion of America? A North Korean accord with South Korea after the US fought a war there to keep them separate?
Would pre-emptive strikes against these countries defend against terrorist attacks? Have terrorists represented the countries they originated from, or have they been sponsored by organizations whose members and leadership have held grudges against others?
Would a pre-emptive strike against any of the “axis of evil” countries pre-empt acts of terrorism? On the contrary, such action—as that taken in Iraq–inevitably kills and wounds a multitude of innocent civilians and fosters more terrorists sympathetic to the victims.
The pre-emptive invasion by America of Iraq was a gross error in judgment based on faulty reasoning. The arguments put forth by a cabal of Israeli first thinkers caused the death of more than a million Iraqis and thousands of Americans and British invaders.
Now, President Obama has been talking about negotiating with Iran over its nuclear development; but he has done little to bring about any serious meetings.
Meanwhile Israel continues to insist on taking action to pre-empt Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons. Israel will be satisfied with nothing less than destruction of Iran.