On War and Choice

It has long been said that there are wars of necessity and wars of choice. But enemies always adapt, especially in our world of terrorists, failing states and delinquent regimes. Every war is a war of choice.

Issue: May-June 2010

 WARS ARE now commonly divided into types: those of necessity and those of choice. The former are unavoidable, fought because of a threat to our basic way of life. The latter are discretionary. There is no strategic imperative. These are the wars of regime change and humanitarian intervention. The distinction implies an underlying shift in international affairs, away from basic threats to our security and toward more complex challenges. If our rivals are less likely to pick a fight with us, does that give us more latitude to pick fights with others?

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