The Meaning of Lawfare

General Mark Martins / Ben Balter (background)

Popularized by General Charles Dunlap, “lawfare” usually describes the use of law as a weapon of war. A broad and robust debate surrounds the concept, debates over precisely how to define the term and whether an increase in “lawfare” is an inherently lamentable development in the history of warfare. Here at Lawfare, however, we use the term a bit more broadly. For us, “lawfare” refers also to the depressing reality that America remains at war with itself over the law governing warfare. This slightly novel sense of the word—which is admittedly not its normal usage—binds together a great deal of the work we do at this site. 

Latest in The Meaning of Lawfare


The "Economist" On Lawfare Against the British Military

Last week's Economist had an excellent article about lawfare against Britain's Ministry of Defence relating to actions of the British military in Iraq and Afghanistan entitled "Lawyers to right of them, lawyers to left of them: The army increasingly feels under legal siege."  The entire article is worth a read (especially by U.S. JAGs), but here are a couple of interesting excerpts:

So far there have been two public inqu


On Wikipedia, Lawfare, Blogs, and Sources

A few months ago, I was asked to give a talk at the Pentagon on the concept of lawfare. I opened it with a story about how some months earlier I had tried had tried to edit the Wikipedia page on the word "lawfare" to include some of the more nuanced discussions of the subject we have had on this site. Rather to my surprise--and to the surprise of the woman with whom I was working on the project, Stephanie Leutert---our edits were taken down almost immediately, on grounds that Lawfare is a blog, not a reputable source.


Clive Walker Critiques the UK Ministry of Justice Green Paper on Justice and Security

Back in October, we linked to a very interesting "green paper" produced by the UK Ministry of Justice addressing issues associated with secrecy, intelligence, security, and justice.  Clive Walker (Leeds) has now produced an equally interesting critique, which I heartily recommend to readers.  It is a short read, and available here.  Not just those who are interested in how the UK grapples with such questions, but also those who are looking for comparative insights that mig


Mea Culpa: Lawfare

In the Fall of 2002, a month or so after I started work in the Defense Department General Counsel’s office, I had a chat with Rear Admiral Michael Lohr, who at the time was the Judge Advocate General of the Navy.  I had come to the Pentagon from the University of Chicago Law knowing very little about how the U.S. military worked.


Dudziak on Lawfare

Mary Dudziak (USC, visiting this coming fall at Duke) has a very thoughtful post up this morning Balkinization, addressing the meaning of "lawfare."  Readers who are not familiar with her work should become so, and in particular should keep an eye out for her forthcoming book War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences (OUP), which exposes and explores the uncertain line purportedly separating times of war and peace.


Memo to Reporters Covering the Mark Martins Appointment

For the benefit of reporters writing on the appointment of Brig. Gen. Mark Martins as chief prosecutor of the military commissions--and all others interested in the subject--here are links to the extraordinary series of posts Martins wrote on this blog last autumn. The concern the subject of lawfare and the rule of law operations in which U.S. forces are engaged in Afghanistan.

The first, entitled "Lawfare in Afghanistan?" reintroduced a question Jack had posed to Martins earlier: whether the U.S.

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