What Napoleon and Bismark Teach Us About Preemptive War
By Stanley Kober – Cato Institute
The Bush administration’s doctrine of preemption is based on the assumption that American power is irresistible. That assumption is now being challenged, just as it has been challenged when it was asserted by other great powers throughout history. Like Napoleon, the Bush administration launched a preventive war and now finds itself confronting a hostile population resisting occupation. Allies are defecting as casualties mount. Victory appears increasingly uncertain.
Yet even if the U.S. ultimately prevails in Iraq, the aura of invincible American power has been shattered. The unexpected difficulties encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the stress on American military forces, undermines the threat to use those forces again, which is the very basis of our superpower status. “U.S. rulers are often liable to overestimate their own strength, and underestimate the challenges and problems they face,” China’s People’s Daily noted last May. “They can be described as `the higher they climb, the harder they fall.'”
Ironically, a war that was supposed to cement America’s military superiority is now being viewed as an example of American weakness. It is an outcome the proponents of preemption never envisioned. They wagered the cards of Providence, but Providence is not being as obliging as they had hoped.
It rarely is.
Read the entire article at Cato.org