Counterinsurgency, The War on Terror, And The Laws of War: A Response

Volume 95

95 Va. L. Rev. Online 79
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As a graduate student attending George Washington University in the late sixties, I attended a debate between John Norton Moore and Richard Falk concerning both the wisdom and validity of the ongoing war in Vietnam. As John Moore rose to respond to Professor Falk’s critique of the Vietnam conflict, he uttered this very memorable line: “Dick, I disagree with but two of your points—your premise and your conclusion.” After all of these years, I can offer this same assessment regarding Ganesh Sitaraman’s article stating his perceived need for revision of the existing Law of War (LOW) in order for the United States to successfully implement a modern counterinsurgency strategy.

The premise: An ongoing “global insurgency” now represents the single most significant national security threat to the United States. Counterinsurgency has become the warfare of this age, and the current LOW cannot effectively accommodate this military reality.

The conclusion: It is essential that the international community devise two Laws of War—a conventional Law of War and a law for “counterinsurgency war.”

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