The demise of the nation-state, the dawn of new paradigm warfare, and a future for the profession of arms

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Author: Jeffrey K. Walker
Date: Spring 2001
From: Air Force Law Review
Publisher: U.S. Air Force Academy, Department of Law
Document Type: Article
Length: 9,795 words

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Let me begin by expressing my sincerest appreciation to my many distinguished colleagues within the Air Force international and operations law community and to the Commandant and faculty of the Judge Advocate General's School for bestowing this honor upon me. To be given an award bearing the name of a distinguished gentleman, scholar, and jurist like Tom Keenan is truly humbling. He was a man of great humor and enormous intellect--noted equally for his rapier pen and his razor wit. What little contribution I may have made to the discipline is but a drop in the ocean compared to Mr. Keenan's life's work. With his passing just a few years ago, we lost one of the finest members of our profession.

On a grander scale, today we are witnessing the inevitable passing of that "Greatest Generation," the generation that rescued the world from the brink of darkness in the Second World War, then carried the burden of securing democracy around the world for those of us who follow. It is with great sadness that I have buried nearly all my personal heroes from that generation within the last few years: my father, who fought with MacArthur in the retaking of the Philippines; my Uncle Pat, who flew Heilcats from the decks of carriers in Admiral Nimitz's Pacific Fleet-and who was the main reason I became an Air Force aviator; and most recently, my father-in-law, who shipped out in January 1943 as a young Marine F-4U mechanic with Pappy Boyenton's fabled Black Sheep and ended his service three years and several islands--including Guadalcanal--later in China. When I contemplate the enormity of what these many heroes accomplished, I am reminded of something written by a 12th century medieval jurist who, after years of w orking with the recently rediscovered law texts of Justinian, cried out in equal measures of admiration and despair: "We are but midgets standing on the shoulders of giants!" I can think of no more appropriate professional epitaph for Thomas P. Keenan, one of the true giants of our discipline.


Today I would like to discuss some Big Ideas--but Big Ideas that are of enormous practical importance to international lawyers in particular and military judge advocates in general. The two Big Ideas that I would like to examine with you today are--and I will surely not be accused of understatement--the death of the sovereign state and the end of armed conflict as we have known it. After looking at these Big Ideas, I would like to say something about what these mean to us as soldiers, officers, and jurists. With that admittedly ambitious mandate, let me begin with the death of sovereignty.


It has become somewhat trendy within international law and political science circles over the last few years to speak of the post-modern or "Post-Westphalian" international order. (3) The argument usually runs something like this. The international system has, since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, contained...

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Source Citation
Walker, Jeffrey K. "The demise of the nation-state, the dawn of new paradigm warfare, and a future for the profession of arms." Air Force Law Review, spring 2001, pp. 323+. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A92044668