Weapons of mass destruction and the use of force

James B. Steinberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

1 Scopus citations


The Bush administration's National Security Strategy Report of 2002 touched off a vigorous debate in the United States and abroad over whether and when it is appropriate to use force other than in response to an attack (imminent or actual). In the report, the administration stated: The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.1 While many of the administration's critics denounced this new and dangerous policy, the administration touted the need to go beyond past practice, stating that it was warranted by the novel and dangerous threats facing the United States. 2 But the use of preventive force- and the debates over its legality and wisdom-predates the Bush administration's post-September 11 strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeyond Preemption
Subtitle of host publicationForce and Legitimacy in a Changing World
PublisherBrookings Institution Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)0815716850, 9780815716853
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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