Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Law and counterinsurgency

Surely a novel addition to the "law and ..." field, yet nonetheless critically important: Law and Counterinsurgency. To learn more, check out Counterinsurgency, Rule of Law Operations, and International Law," an ASIL Insight by our colleague David P. Fidler. The essay underscores the degree to which law matters in 2 books recently released by the U.S. military. Law's an expected subject in the Rule of Law Handbook: A Practitioner's Guide for Judge Advocates; the slogan on the JAG's school's crest (above), after all, reads "Reverence for the Law." Yet law's presence is more of a surprise in other book, the Counterinsurgency Manual. (The latter book proved so surprisingly popular that the University of Chicago Press published it earlier this year, as Samantha Power noted in her own excellent review of that manual and other books related to law and terrorism.)
How does law matter? Here's an example:
The Manual (right) sets out as the ultimate goal "'acceptance by the people of the state or region of the legitimacy of one side's claim to political power,'" Fidler writes. It then "stresses" that this goal cannot be achieved "through military means alone." Rather, "political, economic, diplomatic, military" -- and yes, "legal capabilities" must be deployed "in a manner that comprehensively understands the society and culture..." The Handbook likewise identifies "rule of law operations" -- including adherence to the Geneva Conventions -- as a cornerstone to the establishment of stability in conflict and post-conflict arenas.
Though the military's reliance on international law in these books indeed may be instrumentalist -- or "pragmatic," to use Fidler's term -- reliance even of that nature is remarkable given the way others in the executive branch have treated such law these last many years.

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