Lawfare, Wikileaks, and the Rule of Law

12/2012 Humboldt Forum Recht 190 (2012).

8 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2012 Last revised: 21 Dec 2013

See all articles by Eric Engle

Eric Engle

Date Written: June 29, 2012


"Lawfare" is the idea that international law only exists as a strategem; that states only comply with or create international rules as part of their quest for power; that power, not law or morality or even trade dominates international relations; and that states are rational power maximizers. As such, it is a variant within the (failed) IR Realist theory of international law.

This article outlines the tenets of "lawfare" placing "lawfare" in the broader historical context. It then places lawfare into the practical contemporary context. It positions lawfare within a spectrum of ideas and movements opposing globalization such as Wikileaks, Al Qaeda, Occupy Wallstreet, and also Neoconservatism. The article concludes that global liberalism ("Empire") will likely meet and triumph over each of these challenges because liberalism is open textured, sustainable, and self-replicating whereas its opponents are conspiratorial, fragmented, disorganized, lack a mass base, and cannot articulate a comprehensive and compelling alternative vision.

Keywords: Thucydides, Plato, Foucault, Clausewitz, Mao Zedong, Maoists, Hobbes, Strauss, Schmitt, Mandate of Heaven, Lawfare, Neoconservative, Neocon, neo-con, IR, Realist, Theory, Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Al Qaeda, China, International Law, International Relations, Rule of law, Wikileaks, Assange, Julien

JEL Classification: K19, K33

Suggested Citation

Engle, Eric Allen, Lawfare, Wikileaks, and the Rule of Law (June 29, 2012). 12/2012 Humboldt Forum Recht 190 (2012). . Available at SSRN: or

Eric Allen Engle (Contact Author) ( email )

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