A Excellent Way Of Looking At Preemption

A Excellent Way Of Looking At Preemption: Ironically, Tibor Machan who is against the war in Iraq, has made an excellent point about “preemption” that is rarely brought up. Simply put, the government acts “preemptively” all the time…

“…Consider that all government regulations are preemptive measures. When government threatens to fine or jail someone for producing, say, pajamas that might catch of fire, this is preemptive. There are no immediate, imminent dangers at hand. The pajamas may never catch on fire, they simply might – or there is some evidence that they could, under circumstances thought to be frequent enough.

All the bans on smoking now being enacted across the country are similarly preventive measures – when the individual smokes, he or she may risk seriously adverse health conditions. But that is not imminent at all, and yet thousands of politicians, especially those with left-wing leanings, insist that such measures must be implemented. In the law these measures are also referred to as prior restraint – acting against persons or organizations (like companies) before any harm has been done to anyone, prior to anyone’s rights having been violated.

…Just think of the war on drugs or vice squads arresting and jailing people who engage in various peaceful activities, merely on the grounds that something bad could arise from these. When defenders of the war on drugs say, but even a little bit of indulgence can lead to bad things, so we need to ban such indulgence; or when supporters of mandated affirmative action policies claim that unless they force institutions to deal with people in ways deemed by them to be socially proper, people may be disadvantaged – in all such cases, of which there are hundreds of thousands, the state is being urged to act preemptively, to prevent possible but by no means imminent evils.”

Not only is that an excellent point, I’d even go so far as to argue that since WW2, most of the conflicts our military has been involved in have been primarily preemptive in nature. For example, were we physically threatened by Vietnam, Korea or Iraq (before the Gulf War)? No — but we went to war in order to prevent the spread of Communism which was a threat to us in the case of Vietnam and Korea and because we worried about the consequences of having a belligerent psychopath like Saddam Hussein controlling the flow of oil in the Middle-East (Saudi Arabia would have been next after Kuwait).

Last but not least, had we waged a preemptive war against Al Qaeda after the first WTC attack, not only would they not have been able to pull off 9/11, they likely would have been wiped out by now. Going after real threats that mean you harm before they can strike isn’t new, it has been around for a long time. More importantly, it’s smart policy to strike preemptively when it’s possible.

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