In retrospect, Ashton Carter, was a former assistant defense secretary during the Clinton administration, who co-authored a July 2006 Time article with former defense secretary William J. Perry titled "The Case for a Preemptive Strike on North Korea's Missiles." At that period, the duo urged the Bush administration to launch a "surgical strike" against a North Korean missile base conducting a test of the Taepodong-2 missile. Some experts bought the idea and believed could threaten the western US seaboard.
"Such a strike could be seen by the North Korean leadership for what it is: a limited act of defense of the US homeland against a gathering threat, and not an overall attack on North Korea," Carter and Perry wrote that time. That was seen as a dangerous assumption that could make about a sometimes desperate, sometimes always secretive totalitarian regime armed with nuclear weapons. Don’t forget this a nation with which the US is still at war with, technically .
Read what Carter and Perry wrote:
“For the US, the risk of inaction will prove far greater. The Pyongyang regime will view its stockpile of missiles and nuclear material as tipping the regional balance in its favor and providing a shield behind which it can pursue its interests with impunity. Worse, North Korea has a long history of selling its advanced weapons to countries in the Middle East, and it operates a black market in other forms of contraband. Like Pakistan’s rogue nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan, North Korean officials might be tempted to sell the ingredients of their arsenal to terrorists.
Finally, many expect North Korea’s failed economy to lead one day to the regime’s collapse. Who then might get its loose nukes? “
"We won’t know whether North Korea’s ambitions can be blunted by anything short of the use of force unless and until the US takes the danger seriously and gets in the game," hawkishly the authors gave the conclusion. The likelihood that President Obama would nominate Carter is high, but his advocacy of preemptive warfare is traceable to Bush Doctrine. Taking into account his 2002 State of the Union address, where he famously put the "Axis of Evil" on notice, Bush declared that “our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and defend our lives."
To accomplish that, Bush said the United States must "keep military strength beyond challenge."
The Doctrine of Bush could be seen to have gone beyond some kind of preemptive war—which targets an enemy force that represents an imminent threat of attack— then go into the realm of 'preventive' war, or better still strike an enemy before it can become an imminent threat of attack. Having seen that there was no imminent risk of Pyongyang launching Taepodong-2 missiles against the United States, Carter's call for an attack against North Korea could be taken as actually a call for 'preventive,' not preemptive war per say. Experts agreed that there are times when national survival may call for preemptive war, experts further stressed that the concept of 'preventive' war is far more nebulous in the real sense of it. If you still flash back, you remember that in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, faced with the same calls for a 'preventive' attack against the Soviet Union, that was rapidly amassing a nuclear arsenal to counter America's, dismissed the notion outrightly.
“All of us have heard this term ‘preventive war’ since the earliest days of Hitler," Eisenhower scoffed. "I don’t believe there is such a thing and frankly, I wouldn’t even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.”