Preventive War: Do WMD Change the Rules?

What are the implications of utilizing a policy of preventive war when facing possible threats from the use of weapons of mass destruction?  On January, 27, 2009 the Institute for Law, Science and Global Security at Georgetown University, in conjunction with the James Martin Center for  Nonproliferation Studies and the American Society of International Law, hosted a panel exploring the legal and policy implications of countering WMD threats through preventive war.  Does the nature of these weapons alter the conventional rules of the international system?

The panel included Prof. Anthony C. Arend of Georgetown University, the Honorable James Baker, Col. Guy Roberts (Ret), and Prof. Sean Murphy of George Washington University Law School.  Each panelist presented an assessment of the legal and policy implications for US policy-makers when coordinating a response to counter the threat of WMD.  Responses to preventing attacks by conventional weapons have traditionally come under the rubrix of limited engagement, especially as such policy evolved during the Cold War between the US and USSR.  With the end of the Cold War, the growth in nonconventional threats, WMD proliferation, and non-state actors have altered the rules of the game.

Following the panel's discussion, the audience participated in a question and answer session in which students, professors, and professionals furthered the debate over WMD, international law, and policy-making. The panelists' expertise in this field of study represents a  range of perspectives through which the topic of WMD and the related international rules can be approached.  Below are relevant writings about this issue from the panel participants.  To listen to the audio recording of the event click here.