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preventive war

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noun Military.
an attack against a presumed enemy to prevent a possible attack by that enemy at a later time: because preventive wars are prompted more by speculation than by clearly imminent danger, they generally are considered unacceptable in international law.
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Origin of preventive war

First recorded in 1630–40
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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