Lawfare and 4GW Conflict with Examples

I summarized and extended conflict techniques from Unconventional Warfare in a prior post.

One of the most interesting is Lawfare aka Legal Systems warfare. Lawfare is the use of national and international legal systems to further ones political goals and to deceive / deter / deflect / demoralize / de-legitimize / destroy ones political opponents.

Lawfare will be especially used by 4GW movements where an actor with weak conventional military strength can use legal systems against a stronger conventional military opponent to get an outcome more favorable (or less unfavorable) negating the opponents conventional military advantage.

National Review Online has an example (via Little Green Footballs) of Transnational Progressives in Iceland using Lawfare against some of their perceived enemies (Democracy, Capitalism, Anti-Islamofascists, Jews and supporters of Israel):

A local antiwar activist was demanding my arrest as a war criminal. My crimes were multifold: Writing an article blaming Saddam Hussein—not United Nations sanctions—for Iraqi deaths, and then advocating for Iraqi liberation. This made me responsible for “war-crimes and violating international law by indirectly causing the invasion of Iraq.” Like thousands of others, I had also worked at the Pentagon and volunteered for duty in Iraq. At each university lecture, protesters worked to disrupt my speech. Some were young students, and others were older retirees, members of a group calling itself, “The Movement for Active Democracy.” I was even accused of complicity in a cover-up of the 9/11 attacks. Among my crimes, the protesters pointed out, “[Rubin] is a Jew and a big supporter of Israel.”

The Author then goes on to discuss other examples (not just from Transnational Progressives):

The incident would be laughable if it did not foreshadow a growing phenomenon seeking to criminalize debate that is sweeping progressive, libertarian, and antiwar groups at home and abroad. Blogger Juan Cole, for example, a popular anti-Bush pundit, demanded the FBI investigate how Walid Phares “became the ‘terrorism analyst’ at MSNBC.” On June 1, 2004, blogger Laura Rozen lamented that someone she disagreed with was not the subject of an FBI investigation. On September 20, 2004, libertarian Justin Raimondo urged the FBI to “indict the Neocon War Party for treason.” Perhaps hyperbole, but it is dangerous to smear political opponents with death-penalty offenses.


Within the federal government, there is a similar trend toward criminalizing interagency debate. In 2003, a principle deputy assistant secretary of State launched an investigation of another State Department employee for leaking an unclassified document to the Pentagon.

Given all of this, I am wondering how a nation-state or emerging market-state like the US can counter Lawfare or build into its legal system Lawfare counter-measures. Some thoughts I have had include:

  • transparency of funded of plaintiffs (make sure the actors and their benefactors are easily known)
  • Losers pay the court fees (might not be much of a dis-incentive for well funded actors)
  • Counter-4GW/Counter-Terrorism Speciality Courts
  • De-federalize many criminal acts back to the states only (more federalism)
  • Avoid signing treaties that give opponents Lawfare Opportunities
  • Consider amending U.S. Constitution to enact some think like a Bricker Admendment variant
  • Transparency in the records of complaints and sanctions against attorneys
  • Court filing (Especially A vs B represented by C,D, Etc.) should be webified in a manner conducive to data mining by the press and and others (like citizen bloggers)
  • Allow greater leeway in judicial sanction against frivolous court actions
  • speed up the court/trial system (heh…no room for details in a bullet point)

If I think about this some more, I might be able to come with some better countermeasures.

3 Responses

  1. […] In reaction to the US President announcing some (fairly small) illegal immigration countermeasures, Mexico announced they would begin to practice Lawfare against the US (in addition to Population / Immigration warfare, Media warfare and Diplomatic Warfare) […]

  2. […] I am right there with him. The west should have an advantage in Lawfare. By unleashing it, the power of lawyers can be used to frustrate the terrorists and terrorist enablers that move among and hide in the Democratic world. The West should excel at this type of 4GW. […]

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