The Atlantic

The Return of the Iraq War Argument

The North Korea debate shows the enduring attraction of "preventive war."
Source: Larry Downing / Reuters

The buzz about a summit this spring between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un has tamped down talk of war with North Korea. But the bellicosity bubbles just below the surface, and could boil over if the diplomatic gamble fails. Recall how George W. Bush’s press secretary once justified the war in Iraq: “The United States exhausted every legitimate and credible opportunity to resolve this peacefully.”

Fifteen years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, hardliners are applying one of the for attacking Saddam Hussein to Kim Jong Un: that war now, when a rogue leader is on the verge of possessing weapons of mass destruction, is preferable to a much worse war later, when that leader or his vicious allies would be in a position to use those weapons. Conflict is characterized as a calling on behalf of future generations, rather than a choice by the present ones. “As we learned.

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