Stanford Law Review Online: The Iraq War, the Next War, and the Future of the Fat Man

Stanford Law Review

The Stanford Law Review Online has just published an Essay by Yale’s Stephen L. Carter entitled The Iraq War, the Next War, and the Future of the Fat Man. He provides a retrospective on the War in Iraq and discusses the ethical and legal implications of the War on Terror and “anticipatory self-defense” in the form of targeted killings going forward. He writes:

Iraq was war under the beta version of the Bush Doctrine. The newer model is represented by the slaying of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen deemed a terror threat. The Obama Administration has ratcheted the use of remote drone attacks to unprecedented levels—the Bush Doctrine honed to rapier sharpness. The interesting question about the new model is one of ethics more than legality. Let us assume the principal ethical argument pressed in favor of drone warfare—to wit, that the reduction in civilian casualties and destruction of property means that the drone attack comports better than most other methods with the principle of discrimination. If this is so, then we might conclude that a just cause alone is sufficient to justify the attacks. . . . But is what we are doing truly self-defense?

Read the full article, The Iraq War, the Next War, and the Future of the Fat Man by Stephen L. Carter, at the Stanford Law Review Online.

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5 Responses

  1. Jordan J. Paust says:

    pathetic commentary regarding self-defense targetings that are permissible under the United Nations Charter, including the targeting of AAA in Yemen. See, e.g., and

  2. Richie says:

    Iraq War was a “thin man”? I think the term you where looking for was a “genocidal capitalist-imperialist murder rampage in order to create new markets”. They don’t teach the word imperialism at Standford Law?

  3. Dave says:

    Genocidal? Whether you believe the war was necessary or not, how in God’s name do you attach the word “genocidal” to it? That is a level of being blinkered that is astounding.

  4. East Bay Jay says:

    Drones cause less civilian casualties? I didn’t know that nor do I understand the theory – it might be true but I don’t see it.

    I agree with the thrust of the piece but disagree on the reasoning – drones reduce the costs of war (from dollars to young male lives) and the technology will inevitably spread until we’re dealing with drones on the defensive side of the ball. The more we use drones the quicker our competitors will match the technology, and the quicker we’ll face it ourselves on the battlefield. How long do our carriers last against a ‘drone blizzard’?

  5. Daniel R Powers says:

    The last sentence should be everyone’s concern. Along with that comes my concern: it seems that war or the mind set of continuous war is becoming norm, which as the author points out it will slip from our consciousness and then we will not question it. We are becoming, if not already, a waring nation. We have a war on drugs, poverty, illiteracy, drunk driving and a whole list of other things that need “fixed”. The problem is that once a war is started it becomes a money pit that never gets questioned.

    As to the Iraq war. I believe that the leadership could not conceive of a threat that was not a nation state. This lead them to see what they wanted to see in the intelligence. The military mind set had not yet crawled out of their Maginot Line to see the changes and new threats that were in the world. If they had, 9/11 would not have happened.