There has been much talk about preemptive military action in the past couple of years, and there seems to be a growing strain of thought that advocates strongly against pre-emption. It is good for democracies to have inherent reservations about the use of force, but is it realistic to swear off preemption, as a matter of principle, in an era when a small group of committed people could quite conceivably detonate a nuclear device in a major urban population center?
If not, what criteria should we use as a test for "just preemption"? Could traditional Just War theories do this work, or do they need to be amended? What about other Cold War-era schools of thought, like realism? Can we formulate an adequate framework for making such decisions in the face of asymmetric threats, nuclear consequences, and incomplete intelligence?