This is the second of four articles analyzing the new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual. The first article was posted November 3.
A framework for military dictatorship
The most menacing passages of the Pentagon’s Law of War Manual concern its relationship to other areas of law. According to the manual, the law of war is separate from and supersedes all other bodies of law, including international human rights treaties and the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights. This is nothing less than a formula for martial law, military dictatorship and the suspension of the Constitution.
Citing a legal treatise entitled “Military Law and Precedents,” the manual states that the law of war can supersede the Constitution:
“‘On the actual theatre of military operations,’ as is remarked by a learned judge, ‘the ordinary laws of the land are superseded by the laws of war. The jurisdiction of the civil magistrate is there suspended, and military authority and force are substituted.’ Finding indeed its original authority in the war powers of Congress and the Executive, and thus constitutional in its source, the Law of War may, in its exercise, substantially supersede for the time even the Constitution itself …” (p. 10, emphasis added). With the entire world declared to be the “battlefield” in the “war on terror,” this is a formula for the Pentagon to impose military dictatorship on all of Planet Earth. When the Pentagon refers to the “law of war,” it is not referring to historic precedents or international treaties. The phrase “law of war,” in the context of the manual, is a euphemism for “the law according to the Pentagon…”