A friend bristled at the title of this blog, Lawfare, because he thinks that the first sense in which Ben uses the term in his initial post – the use of law as a weapon of war – has derogatory connotations for the rule of law in warfare. My friend traces this derogatory connotation to the Bush’s administration’s early resistance to international law and judicial oversight, and a sentence in the Bush administration’s 2005 National Defense Strategy, which said that “[o]ur strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism.”
The legitimacy of this latter claim will be explored this weekend at a conference called LAWFARE! at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The conference has outstanding speakers and will be webcast; it should be worth watching. To my mind the most important speaker at the conference is General Charles Dunlap, the former Deputy Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force who is now at the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law School. General Dunlap is an amazing man for many reasons, not the least of which is that he is a serious intellectual who regularly published influential scholarly articles during his service in the Air Force on topics ranging from cybersecurity to civilian control of the military to legal ethics to targeting doctrine and more. His most influential idea, however, is “lawfare.” I don’t think he was the first to coin the term but he certainly popularized it and was the first to analyze it seriously.