January 21, 2004

Non-State War: Still Waiting For the Other Shoe

President Bush's SotU bombshell that the US has a policy of applying the rules of war to non-state actors doesn't seem to have hit yet. Perhaps it would be Europe's cowboy colored glasses perception of George Bush as somebody who is, shall we say, not entirely serious. It would seem like an interesting question for Le Monde or Die Welt to delve into. Is it formal US policy that war is no longer the exclusive province of sovereign states or did the President misspeak?

This is an innovation that cries out for a policy discussion to work out the implications. Can states initiate wars against non-state actors or is this something that is only justified if the non-state actor declares war first? Will the War on Drugs and the War on Organized Crime cease to be rhetorical devices and become true wars run by war rules? How do you differentiate between rhetorical wars with non-state actors and actual wars?

Posted by TMLutas at January 21, 2004 09:17 PM