A Return to Coercion: International Law and New Weapons Technologies

42 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2014 Last revised: 29 Aug 2014

Jeremy Rabkin

George Mason University School of Law

John Yoo

University of California at Berkeley School of Law; American Enterprise Institute

Date Written: July 5, 2014

Abstract

In recent years, the U.S. has threatened air strikes against Syria and insisted on the possibility of air strikes against Iran, in both cases to deter development of weapons of mass destruction. Such threats represent a return to the idea that international law allows states to impose punitive measures by force. Most academic specialists claim that the UN Charter only authorizes force in immediate self-defense. Many commentators embrace the related doctrine that lawful force can only be exercised against the opposing military force. But there remains more logic in the older view, that international law authorizes force for a wider variety of challenges and against a wider range of legitimate targets. Since there is no global protective service, nations must use force more broadly in self-defense and greater powers must sometimes use force to resist the spread of weapons of mass destruction, to disrupt terror networks, to stop aggressive designs before they provoke all out war. There are good reasons to insist on restraints that limit loss of life among civilians, but civilian property does not have the same claims. But with today's technologies, cyber attacks or drone strikes can focus on carefully chosen civilian targets. That approach can help resolve disputes between nations with less overall destruction -- the ultimate purpose of the laws of war.

Keywords: coercion, war, international law, cyberwar, drones, laws of war

Suggested Citation

Rabkin, Jeremy and Yoo, John, A Return to Coercion: International Law and New Weapons Technologies (July 5, 2014). Hofstra Law Review, Forthcoming; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 14-28; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2462652. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2462652

Jeremy Rabkin

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Dr
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

John Choon Yoo (Contact Author)

University of California at Berkeley School of Law ( email )

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-643-5089 (Phone)
510-643-2673 (Fax)

American Enterprise Institute ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
181
Rank
136,952
Abstract Views
1,337