The Powers of War and Peace by John Yoo
As a high-ranking official in the Justice Department during the two years immediately after 9/11, John Yoo played a central role in developing the legal rationale for some of the most contentious aspects of the war on terror. Now a professor of law at Berkeley, he has written an essential guide for thinking about national-security challenges in an era of transnational terror networks that flout the laws of civilized warfare. Contrary to the thinking of those who are reflexively hostile to the exercise of American power, and especially to its concentration in the hands of the President, his blueprint is a document composed well over 200 years ago: the American Constitution.
Yoo begins by exploring the work of legal and political thinkers whose ideas influenced the founding generation. In their writings, he discerns a consensus view on the need for a dichotomy in government—between, on the one hand, the power of domestic rule-making, essentially reposed by them in the legislature (with enforcement entrusted to the executive), and, on the other hand, what John Locke called the “federative” power governing relations between a particular society and the rest of mankind. This latter must, for security’s sake, be left almost exclusively to the judgment and alacrity of a capable executive.
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