f facts mattered in American politics, the Bush-Cheney ticket would not be basing its re-election campaign on the fear-mongering contention that the surest defense against future terrorist attacks lies in the badly discredited doctrine of preventive war. Vice President Dick Cheney took this argument to a disgraceful low last week when he implied that electing John Kerry and returning to traditional American foreign policy values would invite a devastating new strike.
So far, the preventive war doctrine has had one real test: the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Bush terrified millions of Americans into believing that forcibly changing the regime in Baghdad was the only way to keep Iraq's supposed stockpiles of unconventional weapons out of the hands of Al Qaeda. Then it turned out that there were no stockpiles and no operational links between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda's anti-American terrorism. Meanwhile, America's longstanding defensive alliances were weakened and the bulk of America's ground combat troops tied down in Iraq for what now appears to be many years to come. If that is making this country safer, it is hard to see how. The real lesson is that America dangerously erodes its military and diplomatic defenses when it charges off unwisely after hypothetical enemies. Full article.
That is why Mr. Cheney is also wrong to disparage law-enforcement cooperation with allies as an important weapon in this war.
Instead, he promises more preventive, offensive wars against hypothetical dangers like Iraq. Besides estranging America from its main European and Asian allies, and leaving Washington looking like an aggressor to much of the Arab and Muslim world, these policies kill American soldiers and civilians in the countries attacked, and they threaten to tie down the Army and Marine divisions America needs to have available for responding to real threats in the dangerous decades ahead.