Harvard national security journal, Vol. 5, issue 1, 2014, p. 305-334
Does it really matter, from a legal perspective, whether the U.S. government continues to maintain that it is in an armed conflict with al Qaeda? Critics of the status quo regarding the use of lethal force and military detention tend to assume that it matters a great deal and that shifting to a postwar framework will result in significant practical change. Supporters of the status quo tend to share that assumption and oppose abandoning the armed-conflict model for that reason. This Essay argues that both camps are mistaken about this common premise. For better or worse, shifting from the armed-conflict model to a postwar framework would have far less of a practical impact than both assume.