Ethical Perspectives 11 (2):130-143 (2004)
The Bush doctrine of preventive and pre-emptive strikes triggered a debate in academic and governmental circles about the possible legitimization of those concepts in international politics and possibly international law. This essay gives an overview of the practice of preventive and pre-emptive strikes, both before and after the Cold War. Further, it sketches the above-mentioned debate and the underlying trends explaining it. Finally, it assesses the new doctrine in light of a possible future incorporation of the concepts of preventive and pre-emptive strikes into international law. A distinction will be made between three kind of preventive strikes: counter-terrorist, counter-proliferation, and preventing humanitarian disasters
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