Likewise, through his stated willingness to "go it alone," the US is advancing a new doctrine of pre-emption that simply has no legal precedent. For example, even JFK refused to pursue a millitary strike against Cuba because he feared that the world would see him as an agressor nation like Japan at Pearl Harbor. This action of the present administration sets a precedent that other nations will follow in the future and we have to give serious thought to whether or not that is a good thing. If we act alone, then henceforth, any nation that believes itself just may proclaim--using our example as a precedent-- that it has the right to act against any other nation, with or without the support of the international community. Do we really want to send that message to China, N. Korea, or any other rogue state? Or, what if Israel decided to launch an offensive against every Arab state that was active in plotting against it? Certainly they would be "right" (using our present doctrine). So why do we stay their hand?
There are serious concerns here that go beyond our sense of rightness. There is, I believe a moral due process that must be observed. Everyone thinks that they are right, but prudent restraint has always prevented legal, civilized nations from acting on their own sense of rightness unless they had the support of the international community. This has provided a de facto (albeit imperfect) set of international checks.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Going it aloneI think these comments of Greg Popcak mirror my own on the willingness of Bush to go it alone, if necessary:
Posted by Robert Gotcher at Wednesday, January 29, 2003