At RealClearDefense Crispin Rovere ties himself into a pretzel to define “imminent” as “potential” and “anticipatory self-defense” as anything but preventive in discussing a preventive strike against North Korea:
On one level, war is always immoral. It involves industrialized murder perpetrated by an organized force against fellow human beings. Another Korean war would be horrendously violent, with American forces having to destroy a numerous and motivated enemy. However, the specific ethical arguments made against a military strike fail in critical respects. In sum, a U.S. military strike aimed at neutralizing the threat of a nuclear-tipped ICBM is ethically justified in addition to being strategically correct.
Nowhere does he mention U. S. treaty obligations which prohibit the United States from attacking another country without United Nations Security Council authorization. Don’t those factor into considerations of the ethics of the matter?
An attack by the United States on North Korea would be morally justified if the United States had compelling evidence that an attack by North Korea on the United States, its allies, or its interests was imminent, imminent defined as “about to take place”. What is the limit on Dr. Rovere’s definition of “imminent” i.e. potential? Would an attack on China be morally justified? China definitely has the potential to attack us and has for decades. An attack on Canada?