Max Boot has a bit up in the new Foreign Policy issue called " What ever happened to Preemption?"
Max traces the "When in doubt - knock 'em out' school of thought since the new millennium right into the future:
"What is truly alarming is the possibility that such an attack could be carried out with weapons of mass destruction. If al Qaeda were ever to get its hands on a nuclear bomb, Pakistan would have to be considered a prime culprit. It is, after all, a state rife with Islamist extremists, and has a government unable to preserve even a modicum of order. Its capacity to safeguard its nuclear arsenal, even with the best of intentions, is in doubt.
"Already, the A.Q. Khan ring has been responsible for a frightening amount of nuclear proliferation. It takes a lot of credulity to imagine that Pakistan's top nuclear weapons scientist could carry out these activities without the knowledge of anyone in the Pakistani government.
"Another likely source for a terrorist bomb would have to be Iran. Iran's own government admits to having more than 5,000 centrifuges in operation and plans to install many more. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that those centrifuges have already produced 630 kilograms, or 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium. Once that material is purified into highly enriched uranium, it would be sufficient, or nearly sufficient, to make an atomic bomb. Intelligence estimates warn that could happen sometime in 2009. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, is hardly a hard-liner, but even he says efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program have been a "failure." "We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," he recently told the Los Angeles Times.
"In its recent report, the congressionally chartered Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, chaired by former U.S. Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent, "singled out Pakistan for special attention" because "many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the United States is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan."
"This region is home to more than 6 million Pashtuns living amid treacherous, mountainous terrain that has never been fully brought under control by any outside power. Next door is the North-West Frontier Province, which has a population of 20 million and has also become a playground for jihadists. Sending U.S. troops to take on such a difficult task would be virtually unthinkable, barring another tragedy on the scale of 9/11."
"And that's precisely the point. We Americans shy away from preemptive action because we can imagine all too clearly the costs of action. But we lack the imagination to see the costs of inaction. Or, rather, we can imagine the costs, but we tell ourselves, fingers crossed, that we may never have to pay them. Perhaps we will not live to see a major attack, emanating from Pakistan or Iran, on our soil or the soil of an allied country. Perhaps we will indeed dodge the bullet -- or, more aptly, the bomb. Or perhaps not.
"In a prosperous democracy it is all too easy for our leaders to succumb to the same soothing narcosis as the general populace, content to imagine that problems do not really exist because they have not yet fully materialized. That is the illusion that Churchill fought against in the 1930s and Clarke in the 1990s. They both failed. Now, as the United States and our allies fail to act decisively against present-day dangers, we know why."
A worthy read, in around about way - Max makes the case that in dangerous sitches - attacking suspect WMD sites, long drawn out negotiations or threats of sanctions (that funnily enough - never really seem to work) killing the regimes themselves - taking them out - all the way out - may solve far more probs than anything else.
Art - "When in doubt - knock 'em out"