“I had other priorities.” -Dick Cheney, on why he did not serve in Vietnam

Atlantic Unbound | Politics & Prose | 2002.09.25: Pearl Harbor in Reverse

When the U.S. faced a mortal threat not 6,000 but ninety miles away during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a threat for which the evidence was incontrovertible as it is not with Iraq, President Kennedy rejected a pre-emptive attack on the Soviet missiles. Striking first, his brother Robert said, was un-Americanit would be "a Pearl Harbor in reverse." If the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes had been in place, the Soviet commanders on the scene, faced as Saddam will be with a "use it or lose it" situation, would likely have launched their missiles. We now know they were nuclear-armed. The Bush Doctrine would almost certainly have led to nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR. It stands condemned by the sternest test in our history. As Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the presidential historian and former adviser to President Kennedy, wrote recently, basing a declaration of war on fear instead of on overt acts of belligerency is not only illegal under international law but also immoral. It cannot be right to kill a country's civilians because you are afraid of what their ruler might do to you. Pearl Harbor lives in infamy.
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