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In Defense of World Public Order, 95 American Journal of International Law 833 (2001)


With the end of the Cold War, many in America and throughout the industrialized world came to take national security for granted and to view military action as essentially optional. The lawfulness and wisdom of prospective interventions-in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, or Macedonia-could be debated in terms of humanitarianism, 'Just war" theories, or the degree of national interest at stake, and stringent preconditions for engagement, such as alliance support, projected casualty rates, and carefully defined "exit strategies," could be exacted. Many countries drastically reduced their military budgets. The attacks on September 11, 2001, not only killed thousands of Americans and foreign nationals and tore holes in New York and Washington; they shattered the world view and, quite possibly, the emotional foundation on which that sense of security rested. All terrorism is unlawful, but the attacks on New York and Washington, whether they prove to have been initiated by groups of individuals or by governments, are different from those that have plagued London, Belfast, Madrid, and Moscow. Those unlawful acts were designed to change a particular policy, but not to destroy a social organization. The ambition, scope, and intended fallout of the acts of September 11 make them an aggression, initially targeting the United States but aimed, through these and subsequent acts, at destroying the social and economic structures and values of a system of world public order, along with the international law that sustains it. Notjust the United States, but all peoples who value freedom and human rights have been forced into a war of self-defense.

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