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New Frontiers, Old Problems: The War on Terror and the Notion of Anticipating the Enemy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2004

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The old truism, that international law is not a suicide pact, is forceful in an age of destructive weaponry. Nevertheless strategically, there is little precedent for a major military offensive against a state that has not proximately used force against the interests of the belligerent state. Legally, while a number of legitimate justifications might permit the use of force, an appropriate international law doctrine, under which the United States could execute the military campaign it recently successfully launched against Iraq, does not currently exist. But that lacuna was seemingly plugged with the ‘Bush Doctrine’ that advocates pre-emptive strikes against rogue states and/or entities involved in terrorism. The so-called ‘Bush Doctrine’ articulates a new rule of international law that seeks to bring to life the doctrine of anticipatory self-defence as an appropriate means through which to combat terrorism (including states that actively support terrorism or that are themselves terror states in the sense of acquiring and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction).

© T.M.C. Asser Press 2004

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