Would You Ever Support Preemptive Military Action?

The United States has no desire to be the world policeman, but there are times when it is called on to join its allies in addressing dangerous problems. Operation Iraqi Freedom sent an important message. Abusive dictators now have to worry that they will no longer be able to hide behind the banner of state sovereignty. It is always preferable to have multilateral backing for any intervention, but often this is impossible. It happened in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda.
France, Russia and China all have a veto power in the U.N. Security Council, and there will be times when they use it to stop initiatives by the United States. There will be times when an American leadership role is necessary even if it is opposed to the policies of the UN.
As previously noted, despite the genocide in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, the United Nations would not act. America had to organize a separate coalition with its NATO allies. The essential role of the United States was emphasized by the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1993. Alija Izetbegovich told the Wall Street Journal that “Only the Americans could save us from annihilation. If they do not come, there will soon be no Muslims left in the former Yugoslavia. The Europeans will debate until we are all dead.”
The 1995 NATO air strikes were the result of overwhelming congressional pressure to lift the arms embargo so the Bosnians could defend themselves against Serbian attack. In July, the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority to reverse President Clinton’s policy of adhering to the U.N. prohibition on arms sales and transfers to the beleaguered Bosnians. Only after the Senate’s action did the administration finally urge our NATO allies to initiate the air campaign against Serbian forces.The air strikes came three years after the Bosnians were first attacked. By then, more than 250,000 Bosnians had been killed, and more than 2 million others — out of a total population of 4 million — had been driven from their homes.


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