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Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Osiraq Myth

Another of my colleagues from the Working Group on Preemptive and Preventive Military Intervention has completed a useful policy brief. Readers might recall that this group is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh's Ridgway Center (chaired by Gordon Mitchell).

The latest report is by Emory University's Dan Reiter, "The Osiraq Myth and the Track Record of Preventive Military Attacks." Ridgway Center Policy Brief 04-2 (October 2004).

This is the summary:
The 1981 Israeli aerial striike on Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osiraq is frequently cited as a successful use of preventive military force, and may be used to justify similar attacks in the future. However, closer examination of the Osiraq attack reveals that it did not substantially delay the Iraqi nuclear program, and may have even hastened it. Attempts to replicate the "success" at Osiraq are likely to do even worse, as proliferating states are now routinely dispersing and concealing their nuclear, biological, and chemical programs to decrease their vulnerability to air strikes. Given the poor track record of preventive attacks in controlling the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, American interests will be best served in the future by embracing other tools of counterproliferation.
For the edited volume produced by the Working Group, Dan is actually looking at virtually the entire historical set of preemptive and preventive wars involving states with weapons of mass destruction.

This policy brief includes some discussion of the fairly dismal record. Such preventive attacks, he says "generally fail."

It looks like all the briefs will wind up here.

My brief is overdue...

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