The best discussion (and the scariest) I've seen yet of the issues raised by what appears to be the administration's insanely stupid determination to start a real war, one which might mean the end of the world as we know it.

"Is Preemption a Nuclear Schlieffen Plan?" asks a veteran defense analyst, who writes under the nom de plume "Dr. Werther" for the Defense and the National Interest Web site, which is widely read in defense circles. The article takes aim at the "vainglory, worship of force, and threat-mongering" that has characterized U.S. foreign policy rhetoric in the wake of the Cold War and which has been "pumped to epidemic levels" since September 11. Likening the "preemptive strike" policy toward Iraq to "Germany's neurotic obsession with hostile encirclement" by France in the early 20th century, Werther notes that Kaiser Wilhelm II did away with the careful foreign policy of Bismarck's era, taking instead as Germany's central military tenet the dubious idea that France would have no hesitation about violating Belgian neutrality. In the event of war, Germany would then implement the general staff chief Alfred von Schlieffen's plan, which meant first taking over Belgium and immediately knocking out the French.

Alas, it didn't quite work out that way. In fact, the Schlieffen plan "guaranteed that Germany would create enemies faster than it could kill them." (Unhappy with the Belgian invasion, in came the British, along with the French, who weren't knocked out after all.) And this, despite the fact that Germany "then possessed the most efficient, if not the largest, killing machine in the world."

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Published on August 5, 2002 10:58 PM.

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