Most of the discussion on the United States’ armed conflict against al Qaida and its allies—if it is legally an armed conflict at all—focuses on the nature of the actors, actions, and geography of this conflict—who, how, and where issues—because modern jus ad bellum and jus in bello regimes grew out of a long history of states or locally-confined armed groups waging violence in particular ways. In addition to resulting perplexities involving who, how, and where this conflict is waged, there are highly unusual temporal features of this conflict—and, therefore, when issues—that characterize it. It is difficult to discern when this conflict began (recognizing that it began at least as far back as the 9/11 attacks, though perhaps earlier than that), and even more difficult to assess even hypothetically its endpoint. The temporal aspects of the conflict have strained application of IHL, some would argue to the breaking point and others would argue necessitating legal or policy adaptation to meet the demands of 21st century warfare.
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