Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 03:50 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 03:50 | SYDNEY

Iran and 'pre-emptive' strikes


Sam Roggeveen


21 May 2009 17:02

Judah Grunstein says that even without a working nuclear weapon, Iran's enrichment capability alone allows it to exercise a kind of nuclear deterrence against the US and Israel. Therefore:

From a strategic point of view, the military option that Netanyahu and Obama insist on leaving on the table is no longer a pre-emptive strike. It's a first strike.

Judah is careful to say that he is making a narrowly strategic judgment, which I assume means that he excludes diplomatic, legal and moral considerations. But this kind of reasoning still bothers me because it brings back all kinds of bad memories about the road to the Iraq war. 

One thing the Bush crew got away with on that occasion was the improper use of the term 'pre-emption'. As I've argued before, the Iraq war was preventive, not pre-emptive, and preventive military action is not only illegal but, in the view of many, immoral.

Military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would be smaller in scale than that perpetrated against Iraq, but it would belong in the same category: an act of military aggression.