Strike First, Explain Yourself Later

Bush's new military doctrine might make sense--if anyone knew what it meant

You remember, of course, the Caroline incident? (Don't worry; neither did I.) In 1837 Canadian forces attacked a U.S. ship of that name, killed one of its passengers, set it on fire and then cast it adrift just above Niagara Falls. The British government said its forces had acted in self-defense; those on the Caroline, London claimed, were supporters of a rebellion against British rule in Canada. In an exchange of diplomatic notes, U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster argued that a nation could only justify such pre-emptive hostile action if there was a necessity "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of...

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