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Response or Comment


Peace and War: Factual Continuum with Multiple Legal Consequences, 49 American Journal of International Law 63 (1955)


The literature of international law continues to reveal an increasing dissatisfaction with the traditional dichotomy of "peace" and "war" and its attendant allegedly sharp discrimination of relevant, but mutually exclusive, world prescriptions. Many recent writers have described and deplored the common ambiguous and confused use of the two basic terms, and some writers have sought, with varying degrees of clarity, to emphasize that the reference of the terms must be related to particular decisionmakers and the purposes of such decision-makers. Building upon this dissatisfaction, Professor Jessup has most recently recommended the recognition and elaboration of a new "state of intermediacy," "a third status intermediate between war and peace," as a mode of eliminating confusion in reference and irrationality in policy.

The purpose of this editorial is to suggest that decisions about "war" and "peace" are perhaps even more complex than the contemporary literature yet explicitly recognizes and that a mode of analysis much more comprehensive and flexible than either dichotomy or trichotomy may be required if clarity and rationality are to be promoted. It is doubted whether a trichotomy which makes simultaneous reference both to facts of the greatest variety and to the responses which many different decisionmakers make to these varying facts for many different purposes can, any more than a dichotomy of similar reference, do much to dispel ambiguity and irrationality.

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