Over at Lawfare, I have posted a new review of three books on international law, war, and counterterrorism, with a particular focus on the changing shape of counterterrorism through drone warfare and targeted killing. The three books are all technical and academic, so not everyone’s cup of tea. Sample below the fold.
Noam Lubell, Extraterritorial Use of Force Against Non-State Actors (Oxford 2010)
Kimberley N. Trapp, State Responsibility for International Terrorism (Oxford 2011)
Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers, The Changing Character of War (Oxford 2011)
As the Obama administration winds down the conventional wars that arose after 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq, the focus of US counterterrorism use-of-force abroad will gravitate more and more toward discrete, “intelligence-driven uses of force” that taken individually, were they not already part of an overall armed conflict against Al Qaeda, might not rise to the level of sustained fighting that constitutes a NIAC. It will be a distinctly minority part of the national security strategy of the United States – as NATO fades in importance and the South China Sea looms – but it, whether through drones or human teams from CIA and military joint special operations, will be the preferred mechanism for using force in cross-border counterterrorism. Other things will alter that in the future, but today, this is more precisely what the changing character of counterterrorism war against non-state actors looks like. It is perhaps time to start talking about the legal standards in jus ad bellum and jus in bello for “intelligence-driven uses of force” in their increasing variety – or what, more colloquially, would be called covert action.