The Preventive Force Continuum
This chapter argues that preventive force is a security strategy defined along a continuum. While the scale of preventive force varies, the strategic aim is the same: to thwart the development of possible future threats from suspected ill-willed actors. At one end of the spectrum are extreme forms of preventive force, including preventive nuclear strikes and preventive wars. Closer to the other end of the spectrum are smaller scale applications of preventive force, including drone strikes outside of legally recognized war zones, which target and kill individuals regarded as potential security threats. Although preventive targeted killings entail a relatively more limited use of force compared to war, the dramatic expansion of the drone program is consistent with the United States’ enduring commitment to preventive action. Within this context, this chapter reviews historical trends in US preventive logic and its use of preventive force at the beginning of the 21st century. It then provides an overview of the dilemmas that arise. Finally, it provides an overview of each of the chapters in the volume.
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