« Introduction to the Becker-Posner Blog | Main | Preventive War--Posner »

12/05/2004

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c031153ef0133efcfdc30970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Preventive War - Becker:

» Gary Becker begins his Journey in the Blogosphere from Becoming An Economist - The Blog
As if I don't have enough on my plate, Gary Becker begins blogging right before my first economics PhD final's. The first post is short and sure to generate some conflict in which he tackles the idea of preventive war. I have admired this man... [Read More]

» A Historic Moment In The Blogosphere from Hispanic Pundit
Nobel-prize-winning economist Becker and 7th circuit court federal judge Posner have started a joint blog and have already made their introductory post. According to UCLA Professor of Law Stephen Bainbridge, Becker is a Nobel laureate in economic... [Read More]

» Right-on from In the Agora
I'll be the first to note that Paul prediction yesterday came true. Prof. Becker's first post was about preventive war. Here's the follow-up from Prof. Posner.... [Read More]

» Bekcer-Posner on Preventive War from The Fireant Gazette
The Becker-Posner blog has its first set of posts. If nothing else, it should give 2nd year law students a forum for hero worship. [Read More]

» Becker on Preventative War from Catallarchy
Gary Becker makes the case for preventative war against terrorist organizations and dictators because traditional modes of deterrence and relatiation may not be effective given the mindset of the perpetrators and their widely dispersed nature. The o... [Read More]

» Posner and Becker Comedy Gold from Crooked Timber
As Eszter notes, the Becker/Posner Blog has solved whatever collective action problems it was having earlier in the week and now the first two substantive posts are up, both on the topic of preventive war, one from Becker and one... [Read More]

» JUDGE RICHARD POSNER -- from PRESTOPUNDIT -- A Good Blog at a Great Price. Guaranteed.
"Introduction to the Becker-Posner Blog." Quotable: Blogging is a major new social, political, and economic phenomenon. It is a fresh and striking exemplification of Friedrich Hayek’s thesis that knowledge is... [Read More]

» Posner's Big Adventure from Musings
Kieran Healy has some fun at the expense of the new Becker/Posner blog. I've gotta say that the first two... [Read More]

» Posner & Becker on Preventive War from Conglomerate
The conclusions are easily stated: Posner: "A rational decision to go to war should be based on a comparison of the costs and benefits (in the largest sense of these terms) to the nation." Becker: "Democratic governments have to recognize... [Read More]

» Celebrity Blogging from Explananda
As anyone who reads blogs already knows, the Becker-Posner Blog is up and running. Much of the blogosphere has greeted these luminaries with enthusiasm, but I think it's a pity they got things going by trading on their fame (and... [Read More]

» OFF AND RUNNING from Pejmanesque
The Becker-Posner blog is at last featuing substantive posts (as opposed to test posts that attract dozens of trackbacks). In their initial post, Gary Becker and Richard Posner hit the nail on the head when discussing the unique nature and... [Read More]

» Becker-Posner blog from Deep Thoughts by Dan Ryan
Gary Becker and Richard Posner have launched their eagerly awaited blog. The first posts by Becker and Posner both address preventive war. Economics blogs are, in general, an uninspiring bunch. Most either become political blogs by economists, or push ... [Read More]

» The Economics of a Preventive War from The Club for Growth Blog
…as explained by the Nobel-winning economist, Gary Becker, in his new blog with Richard Posner. This is heavyweight stuff.... [Read More]

» becker's bonkers from South(west)paw
Here's the annotated version of fauxbel prize winner Gary Becker's blog post on the rationality of preventive war: Combating crime mainly relies on deterrence through punishment of criminals who recognize that there is a chance of being apprehended and... [Read More]

» Becker Smackdown from The Fireant Gazette
Welcome to the blogosphere, Mr. Becker. And, by the way, the honeymoon is over. [Category: Navel Gazing] [Read More]

» Becker and Posner 's blog is not so smart from BCChinese.Net BC中文网Blog
Becker and Posner 's blog is not so smart [Read More]

» Preventive War from Moonage Political Webdream
Becker-Posner ponder preventive warfare on their blog. [Read More]

» Preventive War from The Waterglass
Richard Posner talks about the notion of preventive war: The U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. decision not to invade Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks, and concern with the apparent efforts of Iran and North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons... [Read More]

» Becker-Posner blog from Deep Thoughts by Dan Ryan
Gary Becker and Richard Posner have launched their eagerly awaited blog. The first posts by Becker and Posner both address preventive war. Economics blogs are, in general, an uninspiring bunch. Most either become political blogs by economists, or push ... [Read More]

» Becker-Posner blog from Deep Thoughts by Dan Ryan
Gary Becker and Richard Posner have launched their eagerly awaited blog. The first posts by Becker and Posner both address preventive war. Economics blogs are, in general, an uninspiring bunch. Most either become political blogs by economists, or push ... [Read More]

» Ab belt from Ab belt
cool article [Read More]

» Civil War Preservation Trust Checks from Civil War Preservation Trust Checks
Tracks progress by assiging a threat rating to. The source for news about Civil War battlefield pr [Read More]

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Beehimawth

You assert that the only effective method of stopping these characters is to kill or imprison them prior to the fact. Is it at all plausible, in your eyes, to bring about some sort of systemic change whereby over time they don't exist, or are so isolated from a supporting society as to be ineffecitve agents of destruction? It seems that one of the chief dangers inherent in your prescriptions is the manufacture of yet more individuals willing to die for the sort of ideologies we are now battling. It becomes a feed-back loop, where the two forces are locked in a never-ending struggle. It may be that open-societies must accept a certain short-term increase in violent losses in order bring about a long-term solution. The real trick seems to be finding a long term strategy. But your post speaks more of a short-term tactic which fails to enable any strategic victory.

Rob

Does the basis for preventive war change just because deadlier weapons are more easily accessible?

DB

Isn't the crime analogy inapt? If an act of terrorism is being compared to murder, and the sponsor to the murderer, then, no matter how horrific the act of terrorism planned, and no matter how certain you could be of its occurrence, you could never punish its threat to the extent you'd punish its performance; conspiracy to commit murder may carry a heavier maximum sentence than, say, conspiracy to defraud, but not one that would match homicide. Since the punishment for sponsoring a terrorist act is military action, the criminal analogy would specifically rule out such action, not support it, even if it applied "much more strongly."

Jim Leitzel

The choice between ex ante and ex post controls (or, as J. S. Mill termed them, preventive and punitive controls) emerges in all sorts of regulatory settings, of course. Many murders take place as part of murder-suicides, so the perpetrator is beyond the reach of deterrence. (And other murderers might be beyong deterrence for other reasons.) In recent decades, the probability that a murderer in the US will be caught and convicted has declined significantly. All else equal, does the weakening of ex post controls make gun control, for instance, a more desirable policy than it was 40 years ago?

Toadmonster

I don’t think the crime model maps onto international relations well. There is no social contract, no pre-set roles. The U.S., in starting a preventative war, is protecting its own interests. What if no one trusted the policeman and suspected him of pursuing raw self-interest, rather than fulfilling a role in the community? The policeman, not working within a mutually understood framework, would just be the most powerful individual in an anarchic society, enforcing his will. This would not be looked upon kindly by others. Likewise, looking at preventative war outside of the global environment ignores unintended consequences beyond the two nations at war.

The problem with the model is that formally, the United States and Iraq are coequals, not policeman and citizen. I don’t think this perspective has much practical value since U.S. power in fact underpins the international order and world interests are tied up with U.S. interests. I am not dogmatically opposed to preventative war either. But, if we’re going to stay practical what really matters are individual cases. You had better have a really strong case and the case had better be well articulated, and your actions ought to show deference to the notion that this is something exceptional, because as far as everyone else is concerned you’re not the police.

That all applies to states. Terrorists are a different situation where there are no adverse consequences to preventative/preemptive action, since they’re not legitimate actors on a world stage. In fact, here the policeman/criminal model applies very well; terrorists as criminals, states as doing the job of stopping them (note: this has nothing to do with “the War on Terrorism should be law enforcement!” etc, it’s an analogy). But, I think objections to pursuing terrorists preventatively are pretty rare.

Cincinnatus

"Critics of preventive wars and other preventive actions against rogue states and terrorist groups ignore these major changes in weaponry and their availability."

Who are you referring to with this statement? I don't think there are many critics of preventive wars as such. Indeed, as the Judge explains above, the line between "preventive war" and a purely self-defensive war is hard to draw. The paradigm preventive war -- Israel's six-day war with Egypt, Syria and Jordan -- is viewed by most serious scholars as a war of self-defense.

If you mean to criticize those who opposed the invasion of Iraq then I think the criticism is not only unfair, but dishonest. Those who opposed the Iraq war (at least those who had serious views on the subject) did not oppose the idea of preventive war as such. Rather, they did not support THIS so-called preventive war -- they believed that the President had not demonstrated that the threat was grave enough to commit to such a costly endeavor. I think it is hard to argue, in hindsight at least, that the opponents of Iraq were 100 percent right. (I unfortunately did support the Iraq war, because I believed, mistakenly, that the President had actually planned for the aftermath, and that the intelligence was as good as he said.)

If you mean to offer support for the Iraq war by arguing that mistakes will be made, and the costs of getting something wrong justify making mistakes then so be it. But I think it is quite dishonest to create a straw man -- people who oppose ALL preventive war -- and then destroy the straw man as a way of justifying the invasion of Iraq. If I misunderstood your point then I think you may want to expand on just which group you are referring to as always opposed to "preventive war."

Cincinnatus

Jacob Lyles

Mr. Becker and others have attempted to justify preemptive war because the cost of a potential terrorist attack is much greater than in the past due to the increased destructiveness of the weapons available (chemical, biological, nuclear).

In light of this, I find it extremely curious that the largest terrorist attack ever commited on American soil was by a group of men with box-cutters. Although Mr. Becker may have a rhetorical bucket, it does not hold much empirical water.

Perhaps we should attack nations that house box-cutter factories? These have proven themselves much more dangerous than the million-and-one phantom fears that we attempt to protect ourselves against at a price tag of trillions of dollars.

Branden Bell


I think the models are getting a little mixed here. There are two types of entities we're discussing here: rogue states which are the general target of pre-emptive war and extremist terrorist cells which are the specific target of pre-emptive war.

1. Rogue States: The crime control model does generally work in this context, as long as the state believes there is a superior force that will compel it to comply. Above all, regiemes believe in self-preservation. This is why Hussein would typically only open his country back up to inspectors at the barrel of a gun. But he would do it.
Gulf War II is, of course, an exception. But it is one of our own making. Thinking back to the buildup for the war, there was nothing Hussein could have done to avoid it. If we found weapons in Iraq, then Hussein was going to use them against the U.S. and we had to go to war. If we did not find weapons in Iraq, then Hussein wasn't acting in compliance with his UN obligations and we had to go to war. Iraq was a case at the outer bounds of the crime/control model, something akin to a recidivist, but it responded to external threats nontheless.

2. Extremist Terrorists: How do you use coercion against someone who plans to give up their life? You can't. Something has convinced these people to give up an uncertain future for a certain martyrdom. Once this conviction takes hold, there is little that can be done to talk these people down.
Any discussion on how to fight extremist terrorists must incorporate both a short-term and a long-term strategy. Short-term in capturing and/or killing those who have already decided to give up their life in a suicide attack; long-term in creating less people who make such a decision. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "We are making more terrorists than we can kill." I don't know if that's true, but I don't that it isn't, either.

-B

Glen Raphael

"Major changes in weaponry and their availability" is a factor that cuts both ways. Sure, it raises the cost of not intervening when intervention is appropriate. But it equally raises the cost of intervening badly or at the wrong time. Thus it's not clear to me that this factor should make us more rather than less inclined to intervene. It simply raises the stakes.
Given that government does very few things well, has incentive problems, has information problems, and just generally tends to make a lot of mistakes, I don't trust that giving government more lattitude to intervene pre-emptively is likely in practice to eliminate old terrorists faster than it inspires new ones.

If intervention tends to create a net increase in terrorists and terrorism, the fact that the new terrorists can be more effective at a lower cost today than in times past should lead us to favor fewer and smaller interventions than before.

dsquared

I think that the most fundamental objection here is that if the "deterrence" model isn't working on us (ie; despite the threat of terror attacks, we aren't capitulating to the terrorists, withdrawing support for Israel, etc), then why do we think it's going to work on them?

Anonymous

You know, this is exactly the argument put forward by bin Laden et al for the 911 attack on the US.

Andis Kaulins

Are the 2nd and 3rd posts mistitled or is Becker writing on the legal aspects of preventive war and Posner on the economic aspects? I would have expected each to be commenting in the area of his expertise, not vice versa. - Andis Kaulins

Andis Kaulins

OK, I see my question is moot:
Update:
If one follows the Posner posting link to Optimal War and Jus Ad Bellum by Eric A. Posner and Alan O. Sykes (April 2004, U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 211, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 63), then it would indeed appear that the economics-laden posting is Posner's writing and not Becker's and that Becker (who specifically refers to Posner's posting) is then the one writing about deterrence, but it still seems strange to this writer that Becker and not Posner is writing on deterrence and Posner is writing on the economics of preventive war.

Jason Ligon

"The problem with the model is that formally, the United States and Iraq are coequals, not policeman and citizen."

I can't fathom any dimension in which this is true. The US expresses foreign policy through a mechanism that approximates the will of the governed. The opposing entity is not Iraq, but a single man. Saddam's wants and needs are not remotely tied to those of under his heel. There is the power disparity. The existence of the despot at all is a violation of fundamental principles, and his claims on soveregnity are empty.

"I think that the most fundamental objection here is that if the "deterrence" model isn't working on us (ie; despite the threat of terror attacks, we aren't capitulating to the terrorists, withdrawing support for Israel, etc), then why do we think it's going to work on them?"

The terrorist doesn't believe the US is undeterrable, or he wouldn't bother engaging in the terrorist act in the first place. What the terrorist seeks is to erode the will to fight, knowing that he can not significantly impact the ability to fight. If the cost of dictating US policy were to be set at 4000 civilian lives, we would be in very bad shape.

On the other side, the martyr may himself be undeterrable, but that is not to say that his suppliers aren't deterred. Certainly, OBL is spending a lot of effort not to martyr himself, which seems to indicate that the terrorist leadership has a healthy sense of self preservation.

The short answer to why there is an expectation of asymmetry in deterrence is that terrorists are assumed to be doing everything they can do to cause damage while it is obvious to everyone even given current engagements that the US has not tapped a fraction of it's capability to harm fundamental Islam. There is asymmetry in capability to harm.

scott cunningham

You shouldn't find it strange that Becker is writing about deterence given his seminal work on the economics of crime and deterence.

Paul

"Preventive" wars such as this one (which turn out not to have anything to prevent) can, it should be too obvious to have to say, also *increase* the likelihood of the very type of event they were supposed to *decrease* the likelihood of. The greater power of weapons thus can cut both ways when it comes to setting a threshold for "preventive" attacks.

Paul

Sorry, Glen Raphael, repeated your point there.

Nicholas Weininger

One difference between preventive war and arrests based on intent is that in the latter case, the impact of the action falls almost entirely on the arrestee. When one nation invades another preventively, the cost falls largely on the innocent civilian population of the invaded nation. This is true even if the invader does not actively desire civilian casualties and takes some steps to minimize them. And it ought to set the moral bar higher for preventive war than preventive arrest.

Another difference is that the power of preventive warmaking is very much more dangerous than the power of preventive arrest, as shown by the commonness of the abuse of that power. Virtually every major act of *aggressive* war in the modern era has been justified in preventive or preemptive terms. Even Hitler, upon invading Poland, made sure to gin up a story about Polish plans for aggression against Germany.

The reason for this is not hard to see. When arrests are made preventively by law enforcement personnel, they operate according to rules they did not make and they are accountable to an independent judiciary. Thus the temptation to abuse is somewhat checked. When nations arrogate to themselves the power to invade other nations on the basis of paranoid speculation about the indefinite future, there is no such accountability and no such check.

ibmcginty

The US is better equipped to calculate the likelihood that other states/groups possess and are willing to use WMDs than maybe anyone else, but we still don't get it right every time. A danger (not one that should carry the argument every time, but a danger) in increasing the likelihood of preventive war is that others with less interest or ability in getting it right will avail themselves of a watered-down standard to wage war-- think Iran, or maybe even Russia.

Ellen

This is a static analysis--it assumes that there is a limited number of terrorists out there, who exist and want to do harm to us independently of what we do. If too many "mistakes will be made," the ensuing resentment ensures that many more terrorists will be made.

Buckland

I think a more interesting question, and one more likely to come into play in the next 20 years, is the response to attack. Most regimes in the Middle East are quite hard to understand. Many are no more than a collection of nepotistic ties. What happens if a large, spectacular attack, killing say 5,000 people, is tracked to an element in a regime but not necessarily to the top?

In Afghanistan the decision was easy. Bin Laden was tied very closely to the Taliban, and the Taliban didn’t present a very sympathetic defendant. More interesting will be if a spectacular anonymous attack is made in Tel Aviv, London, or New York. There is evidence linking the attackers to elements of the security apparatus of (Pakistan, Iran, Syria, North Korea, pick your favorite bogeyman). Will the country that was attacked be satisfied with El Presidente turning over his Brother-in-Law who runs the spy service? Or would the death of 5,000 people demand the destruction of the regime?

I’m not sure what would happen this case. Would a president/prime minister be able to survive accepting only a single person for trial in such a case? Could he survive invading a regime that is making at least some steps toward helping out after the fact?

My fear is this is the type of case that is most likely to be seen in the future. The closest parallel I can think of is the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. After tracing down lots of arrows pointing to Libya we were willing to accept a couple of intelligence agency goons for trial plus a monetary settlement for the victim’s families. That may be the precedent we have to live with.

SocialJusticeNow

It is quite remarkable that Bushs argument for war can be regarded as the predatory imperialist aims outlined by the crypto-fascist Project for a New American Century. On the other hand, a minority of warmongers and apologists can be seen in the light of the apparent fabrications which lead to the end of any possibility of social justice in a reactionary state. Let us never forget that the pro-Sharon neoconservative cabal provides a pretext for an oil war masquerading as an endless crusade against "terrorism." Clearly, the influence of Leo Strauss is solid evidence of the flagrant lies promulgated by the political donor class.

Kirk Parker

Glenn Raphael,
"Major changes in weaponry and their availability" is a factor that cuts both ways. ... But it equally raises the cost of intervening badly or at the wrong time.
You start off fine, but the conclusion is quite off, because you (apparently) ignore the fact that the "major changes" aren't restricted only to putting greater destructive power into smaller and cheaper packages. At the same time this is happening, we are also getting smaller and more precise weapons, too. We certainly made good use of them in both Afghanistan and Iraq! I think it can be fairly said that they lower the cost of intervention since they make the potential for collateral damage so much smaller. (The ultimate in this regard is surely the British precision-guided bomb that contains no explosives, but only cement to give it some weight.) Whether you think lowering the cost of intervention is a feature or a bug is up to you...

Cato Renasci

The closest parallel I can think of is the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. After tracing down lots of arrows pointing to Libya we were willing to accept a couple of intelligence agency goons for trial plus a monetary settlement for the victim’s families. That may be the precedent we have to live with.Why is that the precedent we have to live with? No Great Power can allow such an attack to go essentially unpunished in that manner, and remain great. Terrorists do not admit the existence of the rule of law in the way the West conceives it, they live in what is essentially a Hobbesian state of nature. The only use our own commitment to the rule of law as a weapon against us. A major attack traceable to any state (whether truly sanctioned or the part of a rogue element in the state) must be met with immediate and overwhelming force, even national strategic means. It's curious, and appropos given your reference to Lybia, the state that got off with a lick and a promise for an attack, was the first country to stare into the possibility that it was next and to renounce weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions don't work, and have never worked, from the Continental System to the Ethiopian Crisis to the many post-WWII sanction regimes. The credible threat of overwhelming force works. To remain credible, when the action the threat of force is intended to deter actually occurs, the force must be applied. You simply can't say, well, this time we'll only slap your wrist, but next time, we'll really go after you. Be sure if you try that, you will be tested, and as the amount of force threatened becomes greater, the threshold decision to use force becomes harder and harder. Indeed, the (legitimate) terror at the prospect of nuclear war has made the use of force decision unthinkable for millions of modern leftists.

pedro

It is interesting and telling how the probabilities of certain events are privileged in both analyses over those of others.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Become a Fan

March 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31