Misleading and dangerous: the use of the precautionary principle in foreign policy debates

Patterson, Alan and McLean, Craig (2010) Misleading and dangerous: the use of the precautionary principle in foreign policy debates. Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 23 (1). pp. 48-67. ISSN 1362-3699

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13623690903553251

Abstract

Recent scholarly research has suggested that the Bush Administration embraced the Precautionary Principle (PP) to formulate its policy on Iraq before the coalition invasion in 2003. The article below challenges this argument. Demonstrating the Bush Administration's antipathy - and at times hostility - to the PP in environmental politics, the article outlines the similarities and differences between usage of the PP in foreign policy debates on the one hand, and the established risk strategies of pre-emption and prevention on the other. The article examines the Bush Administration's reaction to Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme by drawing on earlier conceptual work of the PP in international affairs: an acceptance of the limits of the usefulness of intelligence assessments; an openness to alternative solutions; proportionality of response; and reversing the onus of persuasion. Based on these four strands the article argues that the Bush Administration's decision to invade Iraq was based less on the PP and more on the idea of fighting a preventive war.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: precautionary principle, environmental issues, pre-emptive/preventive attacks, WMD, One Percent Doctrine, collective self-defence
Subjects: L200 Politics
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Social Sciences & Languages
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2010 10:36
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:11
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/1583

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