Monday, December 06, 2004

The Becker-Posner Experience

Hat tip to Asymmetrical Information for steering me towards the discussion of this post from the esteemed duo over at Becker-Posner blog.

I would love to see a broader discussion of the merits of prevention/preemption. The lack of such has truly hindered analysis of the Iraq war, the WoT, and the broader merits/failures of the Bush Doctrine as a new grand strategy for the post 9/11 world.

The problem with the Iraq war is that, at first glance, it is a preventive war that has been discussed largely in the context of preemption. On top of this, a compelling argument can be made that in this era of globalization (of technology, travel, and weaponry), the line between preemption and prevention has become increasingly blurred.

Preemption was always based on the idea that the threat was war was inevitable and immediate (very short term), while in the case of prevention war was inevitable but not immediate.

How can we really make sense of the immediacy of a threat in a world of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? It used to be treated as near gospel that such threats could be deterred. How do you deter a terrorist group or a state sponsor hiding behind plausible deniability? How about a state that has behaved irrationally or unpredictably and has a strong anti-status quo bent to its foreign policy?

In a world where deterrence is seen as less credible and the costs of its failure increasingly high, it is only logical that such topics as preemptive and preventive war come to the fore.

I just wish we could have a better discussion of the issues, which Posner and Becker have done an admirable job of starting.