Skip to main content
"Anticipatory Self-Defense" and Other Stories
Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy (2005)
  • Jeanne M. Woods
  • James M Donovan, University of Georgia School of Law

We argue that the specious justification for the invasion of Iraq -- a war based on a pretext of anticipatory self-defense -- necessarily exacerbates the inherent tendency of war to dehumanize and humiliate the enemy. This tendency is particularly evident in the variant of anticipatory self-defense that we have denominated as "capacity preemption," a type of claim that by definition depends upon characterizations of the opponent as utterly inhuman.

The Bush Doctrine tells a timeless story of self-defense. This story is shaped by an identifiable and predictable narrative structure, one that is able to transform the morally outrageous -- an unprovoked aggressive war -- into the legally reasonable. Utilizing the theoretical tools of anthropological structuralism, our analysis examines the rhetorical use of the anticipatory self-defense narrative to veil hidden agendas of domination and conquest.

  • Anticipatory Self-Defense
Publication Date
December, 2005
Citation Information
Jeanne M. Woods and James M Donovan. ""Anticipatory Self-Defense" and Other Stories" Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 14 Iss. 2 (2005)
Available at: