Publications

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International Law & National Security Law

Oct. 1, 2017

The Use of Explosives in Cities: A Grim but Lawful Reality of War

Refugees flowing out of the Middle East pose a serious humanitarian crisis for Europe and the world at large. The indiscriminate use of violence by the so-called Islamic State (IS), the unlawful actions of the Syrian regime, and the conduct of some of the warring factions precipitated and continue to fuel this crisis. Consequent to the indiscriminate use of force and explosives in cities, the flow of Syrian refugees has caused some to call for a complete ban on the use of explosive weapons in cities or urban areas. But to what end? Let’s not learn the wrong lessons from this calamity.

Oct. 1, 2017

Follow the Money: Targeting Enemy War-Sustaining Activities

We see them every day on the highways and byways of America—18-wheel trailers and tankers hauling the goods and resources that drive the American economy. From this commerce, revenue is developed, and from this revenue, taxes are drawn—taxes that ultimately provide the manpower and equipment for the Nation’s Armed Forces. If the so-called Islamic State (IS) were to attack these vehicles on America’s highways, we would call it terrorism. Take those same tankers, however, fill them with oil drawn from or refined in IS-controlled fields or facilities, target them on a north-bound dirt road in Syria or Iraq, as U.S. and coalition forces have been doing in Operation Inherent Resolve, and what would we call it? We would call it the lawful use of force against a military objective. So, what is the difference?

July 1, 2014

Targeted Killing of Terrorists

Targeted killing has detractors, yet it has assisted the Nation in combatting terrorism with minimal U.S. casualties and collateral damage. It thus need not be cast off, but it must continue to be used legally and wisely, and strategists must assess all possible ramifications to retain domestic and international support.

March 1, 2014

Targeted Killing of Terrorists

The struggle against terrorism—more specifically, the effort to prevent terrorist attacks—has raised difficult legal and policy issues including so-called targeted killing, or the killing of specific individuals because of their involvement in terrorist organizations and operations. As we shall see, this form of targeted killing involves domestic and international legal authorities and policy and prudential issues. A substantial number of countries confronting what they consider to be terrorist attacks and threats engage in targeted killings. Each has to resolve questions about authorities and prudence because, while terrorists are always criminals, they also may be lawful military targets. The dual character of terrorists leads to the conclusion that, as a matter of policy, a state should weigh the totality of the circumstances and conclude that no other action is reasonable to prevent a terrorist attack before engaging in the targeted killing. Careful analysis in advance may preempt problems later.

April 1, 2012

Grand Strategy and International Law

Grand strategy is, or should be, the “calculated relationship of means to large ends.” Interrelated strategic and legal dimensions provide a leitmotif to the modern history of relations among powerful states. States employ an array of means to achieve their large ends—military power, as well as diplomatic, informational, economic/financial, and legal tools and influence. They differ in effectiveness and precision. In the web of interactions that shape contemporary international relations, the legal dimension as a framework and guide to choices is more often overlooked than particular legal instruments that might be invoked in the belief, or more often the hope, that they will serve policy and strategic objectives.

Dec. 1, 2011

U.S. Ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention

On October 1, 1990, two months after Iraq’s surprise invasion and annexation of Kuwait had put the United States and other members of the international community on a collision course with the Saddam Hussein regime, President George H.W. Bush spoke to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York. He described Iraq’s brutal aggression against its neighbor as “a throwback to another era, a dark relic from a dark time.” Noting that Saddam Hussein had waged a “genocidal poison gas war” against Iraq’s restive Kurdish minority during the 1980s, President Bush hinted that if it ultimately proved necessary to liberate Kuwait by force, the United States and its allies could face Iraqi attacks with chemical weapons—highly toxic chemicals designed to incapacitate or kill.