Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2002


The events of September 11 changed how we perceive national security as a society, a government, and as individuals. This is as true of national security specialists, who have been aware that America has been at war with terrorism sine at least the 1990s, as it is for those whose sense of geographic security was shattered in New York and Washington. There is talk of “new war” and “new rules,” and concern that we not apply twentieth-century lessons to a twenty-first-century war.

Over time, September 11 and its aftermath will test our interpretation and application of domestic law. It may also test the traditional framework under international law for resorting to and applying force. But much will, and should, stay the same for lawyers. As a result, the objective of this paper is to give some personal insight into the application of the law of armed conflict to the 1999 Nato Kosovo air campaign from the perspective of a lawyer serving the president as commander in chief. National-level legal review is critical to military operations, not just in determining whether the commander in chief has domestic and international legal authority to resort to force, but also in shaping the manner in which the United States employs force. Lawyers also have an important role to play in sustaining “good-government” process, offering a degree of detachment and long-term perspective.

Publication Citation

55 Naval War C. Rev. 11-25 (2002)