Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was posited on the premise that the USA and the USSR were both uncontrollably vengeful.
We’re all crazy, and if you nuke any of us we will kill everyone in your country, even if the process of retaliation and counter-retaliation makes your country and ours wastelands forever.
Of course the means of this mutual destruction was nuclear weapons on ICBMs, MIRVs and other missiles. The result was a balance of terror that maintained the Cold War from 1945 until 1991, when Reagan’s anti-ballistic missile programs to remove the terror of destruction from the American people led to the USSR bankrupting itself and falling apart.
Pre-emptive war as a doctrine is also based on the caricature of the USA as a heavily armed giant with an itchy trigger finger. In other words:
We’re all crazy, and we’re ready to invade anyone who looks at us funny without waiting for them to attack first, so if you want to try us, make my day!
The pre-emptive war doctrine is no more nuts than was MAD. It is actually less nuts. At least we’re not promising to lay waste to entire continents. Only to kill some dictators and station volunteer soldiers in distant hell-holes to help clean up the mess. But prophylactic, pre-emptive war has not been explained in the same way that MAD was explained. Nobody liked MAD either. MAD was so stressful on American schoolchildren, and I expect on schoolchildren all over the world, that it spawned the peace movement that taken over the American and European left and turned it into the anti-American and anti-European left. But it was well explained and everyone in the thoughtful classes bought into the premise.
Maybe the first step is to re-christen the method “prophylactic war” and call the Bush doctrine the Choice Doctrine? After all, it is our choice to not be nuked or killed in a horrible plague, so we choose to use prophylactic measures to prevent it. It’s kind of like putting on a condom when getting intimate with a dodgy partner. This world is full of countries that are dodgy partners, and the hyperpower has to deal with all of them. Or it might also be said that it is like aborting a failed state that nobody except the crooks in charge wants to keep.
I jest, but some attention will need to be paid to presenting the doctrine to the public in a way that it can be understood. And this is a pro-choice designation that many old-fashioned liberals like me (who are now called conservatives because the Democratic party lost its mind) could live with.
Trackposted to The Virtuous Republic, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Allie is Wired, third world county, 123beta, Adam’s Blog, , Right Truth, Shadowscope, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Cao’s Blog, The Amboy Times, and Big Dog’s Weblog, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.