Preventive War and American Democracy

By Scott Silverstone

© 2007 – Routledge

264 pages

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Paperback: 9780415952309
pub: 2007-02-14
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Hardback: 9780415952293
pub: 2007-02-19
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About the Book

This volume explores the preventive war option in American foreign policy, from the early Cold War strategic problems created by the growth of Soviet and Chinese power, to the post-Cold War fears of a nuclear-armed North Korea, Iraq and Iran.

For several decades after the Second World War, American politicians and citizens shared the belief that a war launched in the absence of a truly imminent threat or in response to another’s attack was raw aggression. Preventive war was seen as contrary to the American character and its traditions, a violation of deeply held normative beliefs about the conditions that justify the use of military force. This ‘anti-preventive war norm’ had a decisive restraining effect on how the US faced the shifting threat in this period. But by the early 1990s the Clinton administration considered the preventive war option against North Korea and the Bush administration launched a preventive war against Iraq without a trace of the anti-preventive war norm that was central to the security ethos of an earlier era.

While avoiding the sharp partisan and ideological tone of much of the recent discussion of preventive war, Preventive War and American Democracy explains this change in beliefs and explores its implications for the future of American foreign policy.

Table of Contents

1. The Preventive War Temptation versus the Anti-Preventive War Norm 2. Preventing a Soviet Atomic Power Shift 3. Truman Rejects Preventive War 4. Eisenhower and the Growth of Soviet and Chinese Power, 1953-1955 5. The Cuba Crisis of 1962 6. Coercive Anti-Proliferation: From China 1964 to North Korea 1994 7. Conclusion: The Iraq War of 2003

About the Author

Scott Silverstone is Associate Professor of International Relations at the United States Military Academy, West Point. He is also the author of Divided Union: The Politics of War in the Early American Republic (Cornell, 2004). A former naval officer, he received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS036000
HISTORY / United States / General
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General
POL011000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General