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Historic roots for first strike

Don Rogers

George W. Bush’s supposedly novel concept of pre-emptive war is not so new, after all.

As Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis points out in his book “Surprise, Security, and the American Experience” – not to be confused with “Against All Enemies,” by disaffected bureaucrat Richard Clarke – America reacted in pre-emptive fashion to the British burning the Capitol in 1814.

No less historic figures than John Quincy Adams and James Monroe used what became the Monroe Doctrine to sanction pre-emptive strikes in Spanish Florida, Texas and launched the Mexican-American War on what might happen otherwise.



Christian D. Brose, of the Public Interest, ruminates on all this in his review of the book for The Wall Street Journal. Pre-emption, it seems, was a big part of forming the United States as we know them.

Brose finds that the historian “is clearly impressed by the Bush administration’s post-9/11 strategy, although he faults its execution and acknowledges that the grandness of a strategy by no means ensures its success.”



Oops, another Democratic myth busted. They seem so sure he didn’t have a strategy, just a blood feud with Saddam.

Nothing, indeed



George Will, yet another conservative dummy if you commiserate in certain closed circles, had an interesting observation about Richard Clarke’s assertions that Bush did “nothing” about Al Qaida while Clinton was so allegedly active.

“Nothing,” says Will, “except, among other things, authorizing a quadrupling of spending for covert action against Al Qaida.”

D.R.


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