Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Difference between Naked Aggression and a Pre-emptive Strike

Some people have lately been asking the question, “What is the difference between aggression and preemption?”

The answer is really quite simple. The only difference is whether one is speaking in the first or third person. When "we" do it, it is preemption (usually used in the phrase "pre-emptive strike" - as though it were a single short quick operation, and as though virtually all conflicts don’t actually begin with a single operation), but when "they" do it, it is aggression (usually accompanied by the term "naked" in order to make plain that it is open and notorious, and therefore indisputable).

Some people might regard this as a very cynical answer, but they should ask themselves if they have ever heard of anyone arguing that the other side has a right to preemptively strike "us".

This simple reversal is the easiest method to expose the evil which is being advocated. Abraham Lincoln confronted a different question in his day, and although slavery and war are very different evils, his response parallels what reasonable people would say about the current burning political question of the day.

In a speech to an Indiana regiment on March 17, 1865, Mr. Lincoln stated that:

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

The same principle applies to preventive or pre-emptive war. If any man argues for a pre-emptive strike, let him first admit the right of the other side to attack him or his country pre-emptively.

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