The Bush's Doctrine of Pre-Emption and Its Effects on World Peace and Security

Humanities and Social Sciences Review, 04(02):119–130 (2015)

12 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2016

See all articles by Nyor Aza

Nyor Aza

Nigeria Police Academy

Date Written: December 30, 2015


The major problem of today’s world is human insecurity. The September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre in the USA is rather worrisome. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre changed United States of America’s National Security Strategy from deterrence and containment to pre-emption. The new strategy (pre-emption doctrine) of combating new security challenges, according to United States avails them the opportunity to secure itself against countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist groups pre-emptively. The Bush’s doctrine of preemption as formulated in the National Security Strategy (NSS) after the 9/11 attack goes beyond narrow principle pre-emption, but reserves the right to US to attack pre-emptively even without a definite and imminent threat. The war in Iraq is most bothersome in the implementation of the doctrine. One of the worry is the fact that the use of force for self-defense is lawful only if an armed attack occurs – not if one is likely to occur – against a state. Customary international law permits pre-emptive self-defense only when a threat is so grave and imminent that the victim cannot wait to act in self-defense until the attack has actually started. In spite of this, the Bush’s doctrine of pre-emption calls for anticipatory self-defense against international law as a way of fighting terrorist group and havens of terrorism. It is in view of this that the paper therefore seeks to find out the impact of this policy on world peace and security. The paper adopts a realist approach, however, argues that even though the world is anarchical, the preemption doctrine is not capable of bringing international peace and security, rather the doctrine will encourage attacks on less powerful nations by more powerful nations, spread of terrorist groups as a way of looking for hideouts, proliferation of arms across national borders and emergency of insurgencies and many more. From this the paper concludes that attacks on ground of preemption should be properly checked by the United Nations and perpetrators forced to pay heavy compensation to the victim(s).

Keywords: Pre-emption, Terrorism, International law, Peace and security

JEL Classification: N40

Suggested Citation

Aza, Nyor, The Bush's Doctrine of Pre-Emption and Its Effects on World Peace and Security (December 30, 2015). Humanities and Social Sciences Review, 04(02):119–130 (2015), Available at SSRN: or

Nyor Aza (Contact Author)

Nigeria Police Academy ( email )

Dept of Political Science
Nigeria Police Acdemy Along Kano- Maduguri Road Wu
Wudil, Kano, KS North West 700231

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