Wednesday, September 19, 2007

an appropriate degree of uncertainty

In the course of arguing that the next time we invade Iraq, we should make sure to do it right, James Dobbins writes (behind a subscription wall):

Over more than two centuries, the United States has conducted dozens of military campaigns, only two of which were in response to attacks on U.S. soil. This record should leave few in doubt that the United States will employ force to protect itself, its friends, and its interests without necessarily waiting to be struck first. To enshrine this principle in publicly proclaimed national doctrine, however, only makes any subsequent resort to force more controversial and hinders the process of attracting allies and securing international sanction for such actions; other nations will never be prepared to exempt the United States from the internationally recognized restraints on the unprovoked use of force. This international resistance to declared U.S. policy was clearly on display when the decision was made to attack Iraq soon after the Bush administration formally adopted preemption as the cornerstone of its new national security strategy. Washington therefore needs to drop “preemption” from the lexicon of its declared national security policy (as the Bush administration has already begun to do) while leaving an appropriate degree of uncertainty in the minds of any potential foes about how the United States might respond to a mounting threat.

Shorter James Dobbins: Do it, just don’t talk about it. Ix-nay on the ee-emption-pray. Shhh, I told her if she is quiet until after Jeopardy is over, she can have a C-O-O-K-I-E.

This plan is foolproof.

No comments: