U.S. Use of Preemptive Military Force [Updated April 11, 2003]   [open pdf - 44KB]

From the Summary: "This report reviews the historical record regarding the uses of U.S. military force in a "preemptive" manner, an issue that emerged during public debates prior to the use of U.S. military force against Iraq in 2003. It examines and comments on military actions taken by the United States that could be reasonably interpreted as preemptive in nature. For purposes of this analysis a preemptive use of military force is considered to be the taking of military action by the United States against another nation so as to prevent or mitigate a presumed imminent military attack or use of force by that nation against the United States. The deployment of U.S. military forces in support of U.S. foreign policy, without their engaging in combat, is not deemed to be a preemptive use of military force. This review includes all noteworthy uses of military force by the United States since the establishment of the Republic. A listing of such instances can be found in CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report RL30172, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2001. For an analysis of international law and preemptive force see CRS Report RS21314, International Law and the Preemptive Use of Force Against Iraq. This report will be updated if significant events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS21311
Public Domain
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