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Jus Ad Bellum After 9/11:
A State of the Art Report
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon (9/11), the U.S. government declared that it would take the lead in waging
a new “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). The official policy guiding this war,
widely known as the “Bush Doctrine,” announced that no distinction would be
made between terrorists and the “rogue states” that sponsor or harbor them.1 Hence,
a new form of world war has commenced which seeks not only to interdict the
activities of transnational sub-state terrorist networks, but also to conquer and
reconstruct at least some of the terrorist-affiliated states that the U.S. has designated
as belonging to an “Axis of Evil.”2 The wars that have since ensued in the name of
counter-terrorism and humanitarian/democratic regime change have ignited an
explosion of interest in just war theory (JWT). The purpose of this essay is to
describe the patterns of JWT that have unfolded in the nascent post-9/11 era, and to
assess how well just war theorists have so far addressed the issues raised by new
modalities of counter-terrorism warfare. By focusing on a GWOT that hinges upon
American power, and by drawing largely upon Anglo-American theoretical