The Practice of Pre-Emption


by Paul Balles

We’re now living and dying in an age of pre-emptive actions.
The practice of pre-emption has an early history in America. According to the Concise Encyclopaedia U.S. policy allowed the first settlers, or squatters, on public land to buy the land they had improved.
Since improved land, coveted by speculators, was often priced too high for squatters to buy at auction, temporary pre-emptive laws allowed them to acquire it without bidding.
The Pre-Emption Act (1841) gave squatters the right to buy 160 acres at $1.25 per acre before the land was auctioned.
The Homestead Act (1862) made pre-emption an accepted part of U.S. land policy. By 1900, 600,000 homesteaders had claimed 80 million acres.
Fast forward to Israel. The connection should be clear:
American homesteaders took land that should have remained in the hands of the indigenous tribes of American Indians.
Is there any stronger excuse for Israeli settlers to misappropriate land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians?
Who in America can deservedly fault Israeli settlements for committing the same type of seizures of property that Americans stole from the Indians?
Israelis are guilty of the same crime that should haunt Americans in their own settlement history.
The idea and practice of pre-emption have become a social disease including pre-emptive defence, pre-emptive assassinations, pre-emptive security, pre-emptive judgments, pre-emptive laws and pre-emptive wars.
Pre-emptive killing is a daily event in occupied Palestine. The Israeli occupation forces have murdered 1,518 Palestinian children from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 to April 2013. That’s the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years.
If settling Indian Territory in America wasn’t enough for western cowboys, it hasn’t satisfied the mock settlers in Israel. Both have adopted pre-emptive actions on multiple fronts.
Just as America has established 700-1000 military bases around the world to pre-empt any strategic advantage from nuclear countries like Russia or China, Israel has established its own pre-emptive defences.
Apart from its unwarranted attacks on Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, Israel has threatened Iran as a pre-emptive measure against Iran’s potential development of nuclear arms.
Israel used its lobbyists and governmental followers in America to support its paranoid fears of an imagined Iraq developing WMDs that might be directed toward Israel.
To fulfil that pre-emptive Israeli wish, America slaughtered 1,455,590 Iraqis, 4883 Americans and 3323 International Occupation troops at a total cost of $1,443,877,869,222, according to Information Clearing House.
Scholars have argued that “the concept of pre-emptive war can be used to start a war by claiming that the nation would soon be under attack and therefore had to defend itself. The concept is controversial because it can be used and abused as a justification to start a war on questionable grounds.”
Justification attempts supported America’s war on Iraq, though America was defending Israel. The same argument is regularly used by Israel to defend its attacks on Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.
In America and Israel, the idea of pre-emption has been used frequently to justify attacks on others.
The same arguments have been used to justify sanctions against Iran. Both American and Israeli governments continue to justify current actions and future potential for engaging in a war against Iran.
Lois Becker points out that even the NRA has been pushing for “pre-emption” laws to block cities from enacting their own gun policies, effectively requiring cities with higher rates of gun violence to have the same gun regulations as smaller towns.
Pre-emption is a disease that is part paranoia and part the war-mongering insensibilities of both Israel and America.


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