International Law and Terrorism: America Reprises the Lone Ranger in ReSponse to International Terrorism   [open pdf - 1MB]

The question presented in this essay is twofold. First, what, if any, international rules exist to deal with terrorists and other new and dangerous non-state actors on the world scene? Second, is the United States pursuing the most prudent policy to respond to the conundrum of terrorism and similar transnational threats? America may be relying too heavily on unilateral action to respond to terrorism. The author compares the United States to the Lone Ranger in seeking answers to these questions. The Lone Ranger represented the quintessential peace officer except that he operated outside the normal legal system to achieve his goals. He work a mask typical of banditry, he was not deputized as a law enforcement agent, and often used what is initially perceived as unlawful force and violence in achieving his ends. As a result, the Lone Ranger was always explaining his actions and that he was not the bad guy. By today's standards, he would be classified as a vigilante. He did, however, always turn the villains over to the proper authorities, which is his saving grace. The Lone Ranger mentality may be a part of the American psychology. Our attitude coupled with United States hegemony may lead us to reprising the role of the Lone Ranger in the war against terrorism without fully weighing the potential long-term consequences to the rule of law.

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