chapter  7
26 Pages

Preventive War and the Bush Doctrine: Theoretical Logic and Historical Roots

ByJACK S. LEVY

Prior to the enunciation of the Bush Doctrine and the 2003 Iraq War, scholars commonly argued that democracies do not ght “preventive wars” against rising adversaries.1 Scholars now debate whether the George W. Bush administration’s doctrine of “preemption,” which is actually based on the logic of prevention, constitutes a new departure in American foreign policy, or whether it has deeper historical roots.2 Either argument, but especially the latter, contradicts the earlier conventional wisdom that democracies do not ght preventive wars.3 ese debates raise a number of questions. What is preventive war? How does it dier from preemption? How inuential was preventive or preemptive logic in the American initiation of the 2003 Iraq War? Does preventive logic have deep roots in American foreign policy? Is it true, more generally, that democracies never, or perhaps only rarely, ght preventive wars? If so, how can we explain that pattern? Under what conditions is preventive war morally justiable?