“So long, semester!” Some reflections and more…
Here at Duke Law the semester has come to a close, and I had three ‘last classes’ – each with a wonderful group of students. The Duke Law Daily wrote a very nice piece about the Readings in Ethical Issues in National Security Law seminar which takes place in my home with my wife Joy as host.
In an informal setting we cover a very wide range of issues that can (and do!) arise in the national security context. During the second half of the seminar this coming spring, we’ll be placing “special emphasis on the challenges presented by the integration of artificial intelligence into the national security enterprise.”
Here’s a bit more:
After our final National Security Law class (the course is co-taught with my colleague Shane Stansbury) several of the students gathered at the JB Duke Hotel (about two blocks from the Law School) for refreshments and snacks as we reflected on the course (and lots of other things!)
Shane and I teach this class as a survey course and it begins by “analyzing the constitutional structure governing national security matters, and the role played by the three branches of government (with special emphasis on Presidential power).”
It then goes on to examine such topics as “governmental surveillance, the investigation and prosecution of national security cases, as well as First Amendment issues related to national security.
In addition, homeland security issues (to include the domestic use of the armed forces), security-based travel restrictions, public health emergencies, civil-military relations, and the impact of national security issues on business transactions will be reviewed.
We were pleased to host as a guest speaker Heather Huntley, a senior attorney for the the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who spoke not just about the authorities the CDC possesses for public health emergencies, but also how issues are handled in the real-world, especially in light of bio-threats such as COVID. Students who are interested in both health law and national security can see how a laws practice could address both.
This year the discussion was moderated by Duke Law’s Bobby Bishop whose “academic research focuses on corporate governance, securities, and markets more broadly” but whose background includes service in the Middle East and East Africa with the U.S. Department of Defense. These discussions illustrate how an interest in business and national security can be combined into in a law practice.
I also taught Use of Force in International Law: Cyber, Drones, Hostage Rescues, Piracy, and more to a truly great group of really engaged students.
A bit more about the course from part of its description: “This fall-only seminar is designed to introduce students who have limited familiarity with international law, to the principles involved in the use of force during periods of putative peace. It will explore, for example, what circumstances constitute an ‘act of war’ in a variety of situations, to include cyberspace.” It is a jus ad bellum course (as opposed to jus in bello) – see here.
Besides the topics mentioned in the course’s title, we also grappled with use of force in outer space, and explored whether force could be used to counter activities that harmed the environment. Further, we examined whether force could lawfully be used to stop nuclear proliferation.
We also discussed humanitarian interventions, freedom of navigation operations, and air defense identification zones as they each could be the source of conflict.
I try not only to explain the applicable international law, but also how force is used, how weapons operate, etc., and generally what to expect in practical, real-world terms when the decision to use force is made.
I always start my classes in both NSL and UoF with what I call the “In the News” section. This is very popular with students as they can see how what they are learning plays out in the proverbial ‘real world’. I have never had a situation where there were not several relevant stories on the front pages of America’s top newspapers.
Finishing a semester is bittersweet, especially when classes were filled with lively discussion by bright, informed students. Moreover, it is a bit sad as it is inevitable that there will be some excellent and interesting people who you will not have as students again for any number of reasons (including having taken all your courses!)
But there is always the future..
During Wintersession in early January I’ll be teaching Legal and Policy Aspects of U.S. Civil-Military Relations. In this short course we “address the Constitutional and statutory structure of U.S. civil-military relations, as well as contemporary issues relating to the role of the armed forces in policy debates, politics, and social issues.”
This year I hope to engage the students on the military recruiting crisis and discuss whether the All-Volunteer Force will be viable in the coming years…or will we, for example, be forced to resort to a draft?
I also want to discuss my new article coming out soon in Harvard’s National Security Journal, “Return to Sender? Analyzing the Senior Leader ‘Open Letter’ on Civilian Control of the Military.”
In the Spring I’ll teach the International Law of Armed Conflict. With all that is going on in the world, we’ll have plenty to talk about. Part of the course will be attending our 29th Annual National Security Law conference in February.
Speaking of the conference…