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126 Mil. L. Rev. 89 (1989)
The Sixth Annual Waldemar A. Solf Lecture in International Law: Terrorism, the Law, and the National Defense

handle is hein.journals/milrv126 and id is 97 raw text is: THE SIXTH ANNUAL WALDEMAR A. SOLF
by Abraham D. Sofaer*
EDITOR'S NOTE: Judge Abraham D. Sofaer presented the sixth an-
nual Waldemar A. Sof Lecture in International Law to the staff,
faculty, and graduate students of The Judge Advocate General's
School of the Army on May 4, 1989. The School's Center for Law and
Military Operations sponsored this presentation.
This distinguished institution, our profession, and our society are
deeply committed to the rule of law. To us, law is the vehicle for assur-
ing order and fairness in human relations. Law is congenial to
freedom, to tolerance, and to a process of reasoned debate and
democratic choice. To us, terrorism is the antithesis of law, the
substitution of coercion for persuasion and choice. Law, we believe,
is a proper means for controlling terrorist conduct. And we are com-
mitted, in pursuing the fight against terrorism, to act lawfully, to
avoid sacrificing those values of which terrorists seek to deprive us.
Our faith in law stems from our good experience with it. Not all
law is good law, however. The law is frequently used by totalitarian
regimes as an instrument of terror and evil. The law can be used by
terrorists as well, and by their supporters, as a means for undercut-
ting the capacity of free nations to act against them. Terrorists have
no respect for law and no commitment to accept the rules of any
legal system. But they know the value of having the law on their
side, and they have battled to influence the international legal system
in their favor. A contest has been underway since the 1960's over
the values that international law should serve, and particularly the
extent to which the law will protect and otherwise serve the use of
violence for political ends.
The law's application to terrorist incidents led me to write in 1986
*Abraham D. Sofaer is Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State and has served
in that capacity since 1985. The author is grateful for the able assistance of David

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