I'm on the road but wanted to share a couple of interesting articles friends have e-mailed to me over the past few days:
"Lawfare Today: A Perspective," by Air Force Maj. Gen. Charlie Dunlap. "Lawfare" is a kind of warfare waged through legal processes and institutions; if warfare is a continuation of politics by other means, then lawfare is the reverse, where combatants seek to wage war through political and legal means. Conservatives diplomats and lawyers, including John Bolton, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, David Addington and Dunlap, have decried lawfare for some time, characterizing law as a constraint on American power that needed to be sharply circumscribed. Dunlap has moderated his views somewhat in this article for the Yale Journal of International Affairs, but he still sees law as a significant threat to American interests.
I've talked with Charlie over a beer about lawfare, and I agree with some parts of his argument. We do need to evaluate the ways that our enemies are using law and develop effective responses. But I think his basic premise -- that law threatens American national security -- is fundamentally wrong. Law and legal institutions are a source of strength, not weakness. Law confers legitimacy on U.S. actions, enables transparency, and provides a mechanism for the discussion of normative questions over the use of force. When America embraces the rule of law -- and even submits to it -- we attract friends and allies, and we become stronger. Being the good guys -- and being seen as the good guys because we adhere to the law -- helps us win hearts and minds.
"Listen to the Airman," by Army Lt. Col. Gian Gentile. All Charlie, all the time -- that's what we bring you here at Intel Dump. Seriously, Dunlap (who serves as the No. 2 JAG officer for the Air Force) also has an interesting new monograph about the role of the Air Force in modern warfare, particularly counterinsurgency, that deserves a read. In the current issue of Military Review, Gentile reviews the book and tells all of us knuckle-dragging, unwashed, ground-pounder types that we need to read it, because it offers some important criticisms of the Army and Marine Corps' new counterinsurgency doctrine. Among Dunlap's critiques: that counterinsurgency runs contrary to the American way of war; that this doctrine underutilizes core American warfighting strengths like air and seapower; and that the doctrine contains too many internal contradictions to be executed in practice. Maybe I'm just a unrepentant counterinsurgent at heart, but the new "small wars" manual seems a pretty good guide. Still, I agree with Gian that we need to fully ventilate and criticize this doctrine in order to make it better, and Dunlap's article should lead to some important discussion.
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Posted by: Jason | April 16, 2008 9:30 AM
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Posted by: Charlie Dunlap | April 20, 2008 8:55 AM
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