The War on Terror and the Laws of War: A Military Perspective.

Author:Griffith, Lara L.
Position::Book review
 
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MICHAEL LEWIS, ERIC JENSEN, GEOFFREY CORN, VICTOR HANSEN, RICHARD JACKSON AND JAMES SCHOETTLER, THE WAR ON TERROR AND THE LAWS OF WAR (OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 2009).

  1. INTRODUCTION

    The War on Terror and the Laws of War was written by a group of legal scholars and professors who are equally as comfortable with the laws of war as they are with the military field. Geoffrey Corn, author of the introduction as well as chapters on the application of the law to the war on terror, is currently an Associate Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law. Corn graduated from Hartwick College and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, earned his J.D. with highest honors at George Washington University, and served in the U.S. Army for twenty-one years, finishing his career as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. (1) Michael Lewis, author of perhaps the most analytic chapter in the book, Battlefield Perspectives on the Laws of War, graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and continued on to have a 7-year career flying F-14 fighter airplanes with the United States Navy. (2) Lewis and his other co-authors Victor M. Hansen, Dick Jackson, Eric Jensen and James Schoettler, have extensive experience authoring literature on the laws of war. (3) Such sweeping military and academic experience is likely the reason for the authors' comprehensive and meticulous analysis of the laws of war.

    This is a book geared towards practicing lawyers; namely, as it became evident through the progression of the book, to international lawyers and practitioners dealing with the laws of war. An incredibly specific niche to which the authors are directing their literature, the book's audience is expected to have a baseline understanding of both the American legal system as well the interaction between the military and the law during times of international conflict.

  2. THE LAWS OF WAR AND THEIR APPLICATION

    The authors start blending the military and legal genres military and legal immediately from the beginning of the book. The Introduction cites NATO General James L. Jones's remark from 2003, stating that going to war was once a task focused on leading combat forces, but now, "you have to have a lawyer or a dozen. It's become very legalistic and very complex." (4) Thus, while the role of the lawyer is established right from the beginning, the Introduction warns lawyers to be weary of what they are dealing with. Professor Corn cautions his readership that they, as lawyers, know the law rather than the technological intricacies of modern warplanes. While he assumes his readers are knowledgeable, he notes that the laws of war and the arena wherein they evolve are extraordinarily convoluted and variable. The Forward of the book, then, sends a caution to lawyers: do not step into unfamiliar waters and assume to understand how to navigate through them. The authors of the book provide such a warning presumably to illustrate the necessity of their book as a guide through this arena.

    Professor Corn follows the Introduction by authoring the first chapter entitled What Law Applies to the War on Terror? He quickly sets the legal framework of the entire book by distinguishing between a pre- and a post-9/11 legal and militaristic structure. He explains how the September 11th attacks both created and obliterated the categories of the laws of war. Up until that point, the only framework that existed was either inter-state or intra-state war. (5) Professor Corn explains that the paradigm shift began with the determination and categorization of the "unlawful enemy combatant" and its effect on the pre-9/11 legal configuration. (6) This term and its significance will be discussed later in this note. Professor Corn derives much of his framework from Common Articles 2 and 3 of the Geneva Convention...

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