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If America is officially off Iraq — that is, if we Americans have really decided we've had enough and we want out, and the only thing left is for Jim Baker to figure how to construct an artful exit — then I guess the doctrine of pre-emption is dead.

The doctrine of pre-emption became American policy shortly after 9/11. It said if American leaders decide that so and so is a threat to us, then we're going after him or her or it, first. That is, we will strike before that other person or country can strike us.

Whatever else one might say about Saddam or WMD or Iraq's involvement or non-involvement with terrorists, the doctrine of pre-emption was at the bottom of the Iraq war.

I assume that means we Americans have decided that we will take the first hit before we strike back. We will take the first attack; we will take the first few thousand deaths; we will take the first destruction of a major city before we decide to go after whoever it may be over the horizon plotting against us.

OK. Then somebody please step up and volunteer to take the first hit and let me off the hook. I am in favor of sitting around waiting to be hit here in New York. We've done that once and I didn't like it.

So somebody else in this great land step up and volunteer your city to be the first to be hit by terrorists or terror-sponsoring nations. If you are so against elective war, volunteer to forego pre-emption and take the hit.

My bet is nobody volunteers.

I wonder if people have just decided they so dislike pre-emption they are willing to take a hit on an American city first — as long as it's a city where they don't live and where their relatives don't live.

That's My Word.

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