Traditional political and legal conceptions of war assume that war is a temporary departure from “normal” politics, that wars are bounded both in space and time, and that it is a relatively straightforward matter to identify the parties and combatants in a conflict. But traditional understandings of war are increasingly challenged by the rise of disruptive transnational non-state actors (such as Al Qaeda and ISIS), the emergence of non-traditional “weapons” from cyber to bio-engineered threats and the growing willingness of powerful states to covertly engage in various forms of hybrid warfare (from US drone strikes to Russia’s “little green men”).
These lectures will focus on the transformation of warfare: how warfare and war are changing, and the implications for law and international politics.
Lecture I: The Transformation of War
This lecture will look at historical efforts to police the boundaries between war and “not war,” and efforts to make war subject to rules and law. From the masks worn by warriors and the initation rituals of pre-modern societies to the rituals and rules governing modern militaries, it will discuss the ways in which human societies have long sought to draw clear lines between war and not-war– and the ways in which recent social and technological trends are beginning to blur war’s boundaries.
Lecture II: War Bursts its Boundaries: Counting the Costs
This lecture will focus on consequences of the increasingly blurry lines around “war.” It will look at several examples, including US drone strikes and the trend towards more “personalized” forms of warfare, and examine the impact on the law of war, human rights, sovereignty and international institutions.
Lecture III: The Future of War and the Future of Law
This lecture looks to the future: if we’re troubled by the ways in which the transformation of war undermines existing international norms and institutions, we will need to rethink the categories and rules we currently use to constrain and control state violence and coercion. First, however, we will need to accept that war and peace are not binary states: instead, they lie on a continuum, and much international conflict and competition occurs in the space between “war” and “peace.” As we move forward, we will need to develop new rules and institutions for this “space between.
Rosa Brooks is a columnist for Foreign Policy and a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. She is also a Professor at the Georgetown University, Law Center, where she teaches courses on international law, national security, constitutional law, failed states, atrocity law , and other subjects. From April 2009 to July 2011, Brooks served as Counselor to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. In July 2011, she received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. From 2005 to March 2009, Brooks was a weekly opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times.