First Strike: Preemptive War in Modern History

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Preemptive warfare is the practice of attempting to avoid an enemy's seemingly imminent attack by taking military action against them first. It is undertaken in self-defense. Preemptive war is often confused with preventive war, which is an attack launched to defeat a potential opponent and is an act of aggression. In First Strike, author Matthew J. Flynn examines case studies of preemptive war throughout history, from Napoleonic France to the American Civil War, and from Hitler's Germany to the recent US invasion of Iraq. Flynn takes an analytical look at the international uses of this military and political tactic throughout the last two hundred years of western history, to show how George W. Bush's recent use of this dubiously "honorable" way of making war is really just the latest in a long line of previously failed attempts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415958448
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 5/14/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew J. Flynn is Assistant Professor of twentieth century military and U.S. diplomatic history at Arizona State University’s Department of Language, Cultures, and History. He is the author of China Contested: Western Powers in East Asia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Seven Streams: Napoleon Moves on Vienna, 1805 11

2 Preserving a Way of Life: The War Between the States, 1861 33

3 Imperial Hegemony: The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905 55

4 Trapped into War: Imperial Germany and the Great War in Europe, 1914 75

5 A Question of Survival: National Socialism takes Germany to War, 1939 97

6 Choosing Enemies: Japan Accepts the US Challenge for War, 1941 117

7 The Soviet Monroe Doctrine: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939 139

8 Fighting on Ground of Its Own Choosing: The PRC Opts for War in Korea, 1950 161

9 Being Everywhere at Once: Israel Defeats the Arab League, 1967 183

10 A Dangerous Simplicity: The American Preemptive War in Iraq, 2003 203

Conclusion Preemptive Doctrine: The Weight of History, Limited Returns 229

Select Bibliography 243

Index 255

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