Are Preemptive Attacks and Virtual Warfare the Right Answers to Terrorism and Violent Extremism?

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Are Preemptive Attacks and Virtual Warfare the Right Answers to Terrorism and Violent Extremism?


Ever since the 9/11 terror attacks that left America and the entire world devastated at what terrorism is capable of, there have been ‘interesting’ developments on how to respond to such acts of violence. Virtual warfare and preemptive attacks are part and parcel of responses from the offended countries in a bid to curtail the aggressors.  According to (BBC), a preemptive strikes is “military action taken by a country in response to a threat from another country—the purpose of it is to stop the threatening country carrying out its threat.” Virtual warfare is defined by (Rao and Balas-Timar) as a form of software based warfare that seeks to compensate for human incompetence and eliminate errors.

Due to the effects of globalization in the very advancing forms of technology, the world super powers have turned to virtual monopoly as a form of protecting what is theirs. Interestingly, several scholars such as (D. V. Rao) and (Maggs) argue that the 9/11 terrorist attacks brought about a completely different and advanced template into the game of world wars. In what has now become commonly referred as the ‘age of terror,’ it is now common for super powers to send preemptive warnings through methods such as the infamous anthrax attacks, spying drones, as well as high tech navigation. This paper will explore the use of the new methods of warfare in relation to whether or not they are the solution to terrorism and violent extremism.


Yes, Preemptive Attacks and Virtual Warfare are the Right Answers

The use of new and advanced technology, as well as questionable forms of warfare was long used before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Historical examples of preemptive war fares work best to justify the current use of preemptive force. Wherever the threat is eminent, history documents that a swift and steady action must be used to quickly eliminate the threat before it can become a real danger.  A good example is that of the 6 day War of 1967 between Israel and Egypt(BBC). As a result of Egypt passing out a policy of hostility towards Israel and putting its military forces on maximum alert among other actions, Israel responded by military force in the end appearing as the aggressors. Furthermore, Egypt teamed up with other Arab states and began mobilizing troops on the Israeli borders swiftly occupying the Sinai Peninsula, west of Gaza strip. This move was indicative of efforts by these Arabic allies to swiftly occupy Israel. This is a real definition of preemptive attack and in this case it is clearly the right answer to a situation that was potentially going to become violent extremism perpetrated by the Israelites on the Egyptians(Ashkenazi).

The Soviet Union was one of the most ruthless and formidable powers and continues even in present day after decapitation. In response to having such a formidable and ruthless power in existence, there was a need for countries to protect their own interest by not looking weak in the eyes of the Soviet Union. During the period of the cold war, super powers such as the USA, dealt with the threat of nuclear weapons by passing out the policy of ‘mutual assured destruction’ (Maggs). By forming this policy, the US ensured that she protected her own interest and protected the motherland from any threats by the Soviet Union. This was simple due to the fact that the leaders of the Soviet Union were very aware of America’s nuclear strength and therefore, were not going to log a fight with a super power that was known for its formidable nuclear strength.

Stemming from the fact that the United States had the power, ability and capacity to unleash a disastrous nuclear annihilation, the Soviet Union was kept at bay. Passing the ‘mutual assured destruction’ policy, best served the interest of not only America but also world peace until such a time when the cold war ended and the Soviet Union dissolved without any destruction.

The current wars in the Middle East might be seen and taken as an unjust move by America (preying on the weak). However, this continuous war that started after the September 11 attacks, as well as America’s homeland security programs, are none other than preemptive war tactics by the country to protect her own. In this case, America’s use of preemptive military force is largely supported by Grotius (Grotius and Whewell) in the book Grotius on the Rights of War and Peace: An Abridged Translation where he says “it be lawful to kill him who is preparing to kill, yet he acts more laudably who would rather be killed than kill.”

In the modern world, there is a serious uprising on what is commonly referred as the war on terror, weapons of mass destruction, as well as attack on global terrorism. After the end of the cold war, there was a proposed policy for international development, world peace that was going to allow for a spread of globalization on a clean slate. Sadly, this was not so as America was soon violated and her homeland security intruded on by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a result, the continuous war in Afghanistan which is described as the war on terror continuous being a struggle between Islam and the West.

In order to fully answer the question of whetherpreemptive attacks and virtual warfare are the right answers to terrorism and violent extremism, it becomes imperative to understand what terrorism is and what it entails. In his book, (Wilkinson) describes terrorism as an act of terror that is instilled by one nation towards another or others. Therefore, it is no secret that governments are working tirelessly towards combating terrorism. It is scary to note that some of the technics used by individual government to combat terrorism end up becoming dangerous to people that they are meant to protect.

The war on terrorism can be taken as the war on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. This is basically a war against the alarming increase of Islamism in Iran and outside the Iranian borders. This is a changed platform of cultural conflict. Terrorism attacks are propelled by a desire by Islamic insurgence to force the entire world to accept their culture, way of life and beliefs. According to Islamic insurgence, anyone who does not see things the way that they do is an enemy and thus they must be destroyed. This is a violation of the human rights as stated by the United Nations (Donnelly). The West does not oppress those at the bottom of the food chain by denying them of their basic human rights. This is the exact opposite of how things are done under extreme Islamic leadership. Therefore, it is important to understand and take note of the fact that the war on terrorism is not propelled by the urge to use weapons, but by a desire to fight for the basic human rights.

Ensuring that everyone understands their basic human rights and where they stand in as far as gender, race and opportunities are concerned. The war on inequality and unjust laws that are passed by oppressive leadership in Islamic extremist led countries is an effort made by the leaders of the West to try and ascertain that the minorities are able to have a say no matter how small it might be.

Virtual war fare is attributed to globalization through the rapid advancement of technology that has seen the world become a global village overnight. It is no longer necessary for military operation to be carried out on physical geographic battlefields. The use of virtual warfare has arguable shortened and cut out the need to ‘travel for war.’ Virtual war fares are taking over the traditional definition of war(Boyle). The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has been violated time and over again by the use of drones in the battlefield. Interestingly, (Boyle) and other scholars have pointed out that virtual warfare can be simple defined as asymmetrical warfare. When compared to the periods of the Cold War between the USA and USSR, the USA is back at an advantaged angle again. Whereas, during the Cold War, USSR was no match for the USA on the ground of nuclear weaponry, in present day virtual warfare, the Middle East is no match for America’s drones and high tech navigation system. The use of virtual warfare has seemingly changed what known as the traditional definition of war, warfare, and war tactics. This is clearly expressed by (Kahn) when he says “the revolution of military affairs has normalized into steady, incremental advances and accuracy, information, and artificial intelligence. These incremental changes have led us to a place that no longer looks like war.”

No, Preemptive Attacks and Virtual Warfare are not the Right Answers

In as much as it is justifiable for a country to protect her own, this can also become a violation of the same human rights that are meant to be protected as stipulated by the U.N. (Donnelly). There are a lot of other scholars that have already addressed the question of preemptive attacks and how they can possible lead to unwanted and unjustifiable counter terrorist actions. In the example of the Egyptians and other Arabic nations moving in on Israel, Israel responded swiftly but in the end came out as the aggressor while trying to protect her own interest.

In his article, (Maggs) argues that article 51 of the U.N. Charter states that “nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against the member of the United nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” This opens room for discussion where it can be argued that Article 51 is against preemptive attacks and only gives the go ahead for the offended nation to respond but only as an act of self-defense after an armed attack. From the initial definition of preemptive attacks, it is clear that preemptive strikes occur before any actual armed strike is perform by the aggressor.  In the end, if this text from Article 51 is taken into consideration, preemptive attacks and virtual warfare only put a country at the disadvantaged corner as they only achieve to make it appear on the wrong whilst the initial intension will be to block the threat before it actually strikes.

Virtual warfare goes against everything that the IHL stands for. It violates human rights and favors those that have the ability, resources, as well as know how to handle the war. This makes virtual warfare to be unfair and unjust on all grounds. Furthermore, virtual warfare comes across as too harsh and steep a response to terrorism and violent extremism given that it prys on the information of those at the bottom of the food chain who have no say or control on the direction of terrorism and extremism.


This paper has explored the definitions of preemptive attacks and virtual warfare. It has also explored examples and case studies around the face of preemptive attacks, as well as virtual warfare. Interestingly, the use of drones continuous increasing, and countries that are using cyber technology and drones are also steadily increasing. Furthermore, this essay explored the avenues of IHL and how it is violated through the continuous use of virtual warfare. Conversely, the paper has drawn into light several interesting points that advocate against the use of virtual warfare and preemptive attacks. In essence, this essay has looked at some of the costs associated with preemptive attacks and virtual warfare, and concludes that the consequences are always too extreme. The implementation of virtual warfare in the battlefield is meant to provide unprecedented information such as warfare tactics, and plans of the opposing side. However, this is not always the case and this essay has pointed out that the adverse results that are obtained as a result of this type of war are not unpleasant not only for the defending side, but also for the attacking side and the rest of the world. However, the actions of terrorism and violent extremism always display little or no humanity. It therefore safely justifies the use of preemptive attacks and virtual warfare as such extreme responses are the way forward when it comes to responding to a people who seem to lack humanity.








Ashkenazi, Eli. “Hamas Defeated IDF in Virtual Warfare during Gaza Conflict, Study Shows.” Haaretz (2013). < http://www. haaretz. com/news/diplomacy-defense/hamas-defeated-idf-in-virtual-warfareduring-gaza-conflict-study-shows. premium-1.491677>.

BBC. “Pre-emptive strikes.” BBC 2014. Document. <;.

Boyle, Michael J. “The Costs and Consequences of Drone Warfare.” International Affairs 89.1 (2013): 1-29. Document.

Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Cornell University Press, 2013. Book.

Grotius, Hugo and William Whewell. Grotius on the Rights of War and Peace: An Abridged Translation. New Jersey: The LawBook Exchange, Ltd, 2011. Book.

Kahn, Paul W. “Imagining Warfare.” European Journal of International Law 241 (2013): 199-200. Article.

Maggs, Gregory E. “How the United States Might Justify a Preemptive Strike on a Rogue Nation’s Nuclear Weapon Development Facilities Under the U.N. Charter.” GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works (2007): 35. Document. <;.

Rao, D. Vijay. “Modelling Environmental Factors and Effects in Virtual Warfare Simulators Using a Multi Agent Paradigm.” International Journal of Artificial Intelligence 9.12 (2012): 172-185.

Rao, Vijay D. and Dana Balas-Timar. “A Neuro-Fuzzy Hybridization Approach to Model the Pilot Agent in Air Warfare Simulation Systems.” Journal of Battlefield Technology 17.1 (2014): 23.

Wilkinson, Paul. Terrorism versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response. Taylor & Francis, 2011. Book.



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