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Preventive War

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A preventive war is a war to forestall a potential aggressive attack that is not imminent, but is projected to materialize at some relatively distant point in the future. Preventive war is thus distinguishable from standard cases of collective self-defense in that no aggressive attack has yet occurred; it is distinguishable from preemptive war (or “anticipatory attack”) in that no aggressive attack is even imminent. Because preventive war does not include this “imminence requirement,” it is generally believed to be much harder to justify on grounds of collective self-defense than is preemptive war. The main obstacle to justification is the epistemic uncertainty that attends even good-faith attempts to accurately forecast distant future threats. A related problem is the danger that powerful states will abuse the right to wage preventive war, pursuing their own aggressive military strategy under the guise of trying to prevent future attacks.

Despite these widely acknowledged...

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© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Das, R. (2011). Preventive War. In: Chatterjee, D.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Justice. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_364

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