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Just War TheoryA Reappraisal$
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Mark Evans

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780748620746

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620746.001.0001

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The Justice of Preemption and Preventive War Doctrines

The Justice of Preemption and Preventive War Doctrines

(p.25) Chapter 1 The Justice of Preemption and Preventive War Doctrines
Just War Theory

Neta C. Crawford

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter addresses the most controversial contemporary invocation of “just cause” in the justification of war: the “preemptive defence” argument offered by President George W. Bush in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After discussing the historical heritage of this justification, the chapter proceeds to draw a distinction between “pre-emptive” war, which is a response to an immediate anticipated threat, and “preventive war”, arguments for which purport to be a justification for the prevention of a supposed threat's very emergence. Demonstrating that the 2003 falls into the latter category, the chapter contends that “prevention” cannot constitute a just cause for war: it undermines the concepts and distinctions which underpin the stability of the international system and effectively erodes the distinction between war and peace. Preemption can be justified, but only under very specific applications of the relevant justificatory criteria.

Keywords:   2003 Iraq War, Justification, Preemption, Prevention, International stability

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