The dangerous misunderstanding at the core of the North Korea debate

Source: The Atlantic
by Peter Beinart

“When he unveiled a new national security strategy in 1955, Dwight Eisenhower similarly insisted that, ‘[t]he United States and its allies must reject the concept of preventive war.’ In explaining John F. Kennedy’s refusal to launch a preventive attack during the Cuban missile crisis, Robert Kennedy explained: ‘My brother is not going to be the Tojo of the 1960s.’ … Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy would likely be appalled to find that in 2017, an American president seems to consider preventive war preferable to deterrence. And linguistic subterfuge helps make that possible. George W. Bush helped initiate the rhetorical deceit. In calling his attack on Iraq ‘preemptive,’ he laundered a term for wars launched in response to imminent attack, and thus considered legitimate under international law. Tragically, his lie has stuck. During the Obama administration, the [New York] Times used the term to describe a potential Israeli strike on Tehran. Now the paper uses it to describe a potential American attack on Pyongyang. In so doing, it normalizes something Americans once rightly considered barbaric.” (09/26/17)