Oct 23 MN IR Colloquium: Lawyers in the War Room: Legal Expertise & Weaponization of Law in US Combat Operations

Tracey Blasenheim will be presenting a paper at the UMN Dept of Political Science's MIRC next Monday, October 23rd at 3:30-5:00 pm entitled Lawyers in the War Room: Legal Expertise and the Weaponization of Law in US Combat Operations. Garrett Johnson will serve as discussant.

As always, the colloquium will take place in Lippincott Room in Social Sciences, and coffee will be served.

We hope to see many of you there,
MIRC Organizers (Emily, Samarjit and Elif)

Abstract: For the first 200 years of their existence, military lawyers in the armed forces of the United States—known as Judge Advocate Generals (JAGs)—served as trial counsels and provided administrative guidance on legal documents such as wills and taxes. However, since the early 1980s the place of lawyers in the military has been redefined from the support tent to the war room. Today’s JAGs serve as essential and influential operational counselors on every command staff down to the brigade or battalion level, and their involvement is widely perceived to enhance mission success and the combat effectiveness of US forces. This paper explains why and how lawyers went from having no more place in operations than doctors or chaplains to being part and parcel of US military power. I argue that near-constant US involvement in ‘unconventional’ and 'asymmetric' conflicts around the world provided institutional openings for JAGs to reframe the Law of Armed Conflict as a ‘force-multiplier’ rather than a form of restraint, and in so doing expanded their own role in operations. Tracing this transformation reveals new insights into processes of ‘legalization’ and their unintended consequences.

If you want a copy of paper, email:
Minnesota International Relations Colloquium <mirc@umn.edu>
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