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Bush's preventive war: Doctrine of mass confusion (Broadening or contortion of the concept of pre-emptive self-defense?)

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  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Chapter one: Establishment of the Bush Doctrine
    1. Emergence of a new doctrine
    2. Laying down new focuses
    3. Clear formulation of a doctrine
    4. An ambiguity persist
  4. Chapter two: Legality of the Doctrine
    1. Historical backgrounds
    2. The arguable legality of a right to preventive self-defense
  5. Chapter three: A political Issue
    1. Just War Theory and the Bush Doctrine
    2. Further considerations
    3. Refining the Doctrine into a more controllable tool
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

The debate triggered by the new Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive action lies in the amalgamation between pre-emptive (i.e. anticipatory) and preventive self-defense. While the former finds legal and political basis, the latter is, so far, hardly distinguished from outright aggression. The Bush Doctrine aims at a shift from pre-emption to prevention for the United States to have at its disposal this new tool it stands for: a right to preventive action. Since the 9/11 attacks, the US has exposed its new concerns with respect to security: weapons of mass destruction, terrorist organizations and rogue states. The Doctrine is the response the US opposes to these new threats. This dissertation will try to demonstrate that, so far, Bush's notion of pre-emption finds no clear support either in international law or in the political field, but rather fuels a strong controversy, be it about pure legality or general acceptability. Meanwhile, the need for an answer to these new concerns is real and this dissertation will conclude with some suggestions as how to refine this concept to make it escape a too great controversy and subsequently appear as the useful tool the US intended it to be.

The Bush Doctrine has fueled a very sensitive debate about pre-emptive and preventive war. In the definition of the Pentagon itself, pre-emption is
?an attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent? whereas prevention refers to ?a war initiated in the belief that military conflict, while not imminent, is inevitable, and that to delay would involve great risk.?

[...] ?Just War Doctrine and the Invasion of Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol.51. No pp. 555-556. O'connell, Mary Ellen. Myth of Preemptive Self-defense?, The American Society of International Law, Task Force on Terrorism, August 2002, p Available at: Barber, Benjamin R. Fear's Empire: War, Terrorism and democracy, Ed. W.W.Norton & Co.(New York: NY 2003). Barber Director of Central Intelligence, "The Worldwide Threat in 2003: Evolving Dangers in a Complex World," February Available at : Bunn p.7. Franck, Thomas M. [...]

[...] Is the Bush Doctrine of Preventive war a necessary broadening or a risky contortion of the concept of pre-emptive self-defense? In order to answer that question the doctrine will be analyzed from a legal and political perspective, after having established what exactly is to be understood as the Bush Doctrine. As there can be no ambiguity in meaning if a norm is to be established or to exist at all. Chapter One. Establishment of the Bush Doctrine In the aftermath of September a new doctrine arises in the US, in response to the threat posed by terrorism and states that sponsor it whose importance and impact has been abruptly revealed by these attacks. [...]

[...] many preventive wars may be triggered by false or accurate intelligence that this or that country is setting about to build one or more nukes Here then is the ultimate paradox of nuclear deterrence: The weapon that is supposed to only dissuade countries from going to war is turning into if not the, major reason for countries to go to war.?[106] We already highlighted the risks of relying on intelligence alone, but the doctrine has another weakness that might lead to abuses: it offers no criteria by which to judge a threat justifying a pre-emptive intervention. [...]

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