Preemptive attack and the power of Weak

Recently I have witnessed an incident while I was travelling by a public transport. There was a verbal duel between two passengers not sure what was the reason but reason per se might be quite an irrelevant item on which we are about to discuss. 

Two actors involved one person visibly weak and the other person reasonably strong, at least that is how they appear. When the duel reached a certain point the stronger one out of frustration slapped the weaker one, it appeared that he could not take it anymore. Then the weaker one just stopped talking. Something interesting ensued thereafter, as the weaker one was about to get down at his bus stop (ie., at his place) he called the big guy and asked sorry for what he has done. That act of asking sorry never appeared genuine at first place; I thought there was more of sarcasm. This stronger guy had some kind of triumphant feeling.

Before the bus could reach next stop the same weaker guy who got down at the previous stop asking apology and all that, brought his friend (a moderately stout guy – in good position to challenge the stronger one who slapped the weaker one earlier). And what happened next is indeed an easy guess, weaker one wanted to avenge. 

But quite different happened in the approach the weaker one has taken. The moment these two guys got in to the bus, the weaker one’s friend was seen questioning the stronger one who is already in bus about why he slapped his friend. When they both were talking, taking the benefit of distraction the weaker one slapped the stronger one. Then suddenly I could see the stronger one pushing the weaker one and his friend. In that commotion the weaker one got down and walked away. And the guy who came to support the weaker one had to bear few blows before he could leave. End of the story.

International Relations & Politics

For a very long time this incident has been lingering in my mind and as a student of International Relations and Politics I could not arrest my temptation but to relate this incident to the behavior of nation states. And following questions should guide us in our discussion. And I will try to relate few known issues which are happening around us with this real incident. I shall interchangeably cite the incident mentioned above and few issues in International relations for the purposes of an easy comparison.

  1. How a weak country will react if it was attacked by a stronger one (a reference to weaker one and the stronger one in the above mentioned real incident)?
  2. What happens if a nation state faces flack for supporting its friendly neighbor or another friendly nation state in crisis situation?
  3. What consequences should a strong country take in consideration before it decides to launch a pre-emptive attack on a weaker state?

On Question No.1

If you irritate a mighty super power (stronger one) then you (weaker one) should be ready for consequence/s (weaker one got slapped by the stronger one in the bus) your action generates.

Bin-Laden has been irritating the mighty US for quite some time and for once it retaliated and killed Bin-Laden, that is a consequence for his act of bombing twin towers, pentagon and few other sites in US ie., 9/11 incident.

But then the moment US slapped the weaker one (conventionally & militarily speaking bin laden/Al-Qaida is weaker than US) the scope of conflict expands, Laden’s friends (fellow Jihadis and other terrorist organizations jumped the fray) become a new irritant then the fight goes on and at last after it – US has completely bogged itself down now wants to engage with Taliban to finish the war.

If you don’t have an idea about the consequences your physical attack on other nation state could generate you should not attack. Especially if the other state is a relatively a weaker one the temptation is apparently higher as in the case of Iraq’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Kuwait, but it failed to factor in the consequences – US retaliation (reaction ?). Two equally stronger ones don’t fight or attack each other directly. US v/s Russia and US v/s China. But US intervenes everywhere else in the world in some pretext or the other.

On Question No.2

Before getting carried away by your friend’s call for help and supporting him you should assess whether it is really worth it. In our original incident the guy who came in supporting the weaker one had to bear few blows. Compare this with US invading/attacking Afghanistan, in the beginning all its European allies and allies elsewhere willingly joined the effort and as it turned out to be an endless quagmire everyone started to get out of it.

If you cannot make an unconditional commitment to your friend’s cause then don’t go for it.

On Question No.3

If you don’t have the skill (or resources) to destroy your opponents with least or no damage to yourself just don’t go for a pre-emptive attack. US attack on Vietnam could be an example. Mighty US was defeated by Vietnam.

If not for nations, these suggestions are definitely helpful for those who travel by public transport daily.

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