What you're seeing from this Administration is the emergence of a new principle or body of ideas about what you might call the limits of sovereignty. One is not to massacre your own people. Another is not to support terrorism in any way. If a government fails to meet these obligations, then it forfeits some of the normal advantages of sovereignty, including the right to be left alone inside your own territory.
Other governments, including the US, gain the right to intervene. In the case of terrorism, this can even lead to a right of preventive, or peremptory, self-defence. You essentially can act in anticipation if you have the grounds to think it's a question of when, and not if, you're going to be attacked.
--Richard Haas, qtd. in the 01 April 2002 edition of the New Yorker
All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time...I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
President Dwight Eisenhower, 1953, upon being presented with plans to wage preventive war to disarm Stalin's Soviet Union
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Last modified: Tue Aug 5 18:01:26 CDT 2003