On Preventive war


The rhetoric of war the Korean Peninsula is increasing. This is not helped by the stances of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the respective leaders of the US and North Korea. ‘Incendiary’ can be used to describe the situation and the state of mind of these leaders. From the North Korean threat against the US Pacific territory of Guam to Trump’s warning of ‘fire and fury’ against any threat to the United States, these war of words have been going on in an endless way.

The news developing today (9 August 2017) is of a preventive war against North Korea as a possible result. Preventive War, as happened with Japan attacking the Pearl Harbour, with the US invading Iraq in 2003 should not be confused with preemptive war, with the latter meaning a war where an attack is imminent. Looking at the etymology, preemptive translates to “bought beforehand” in Latin while preventive is English translation of “to anticipate” in Latin.

Preventive War is the scenario that can be understood when watching the movie Minority Report, where perpetrators, whether individual or states, need not be in belligerent position for the war to begin. Rather, mere suspicion – which of course owes due to the behavior of the power being attacked – can be a ground for war. Of course, the downside can be seen in the 2003 Iraq invasion where WMD were not found, and whose consequence is an Iraq that has not been able to recuperate.

But again, as the supporters of nuclear deterrence are wont to say, chances of a full-blown war as a result of preventive strike is slim. The thing is, economic sanctions do not seem to work; instance of results till date are example. A result that will be cure all for North Korea seems hard to find.


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