Law, War, and the History of Time

16 Nov 2010 09:40am Mary L. Dudziak 

When President George W. Bush told the American people in September 2001 that the nation was at war, he drew upon an iconic American narrative. The onset of war, in American legal and political thought, is more than a cata-lytic moment. It is the opening of an era: a wartime. Wartime is thought to be an era of altered governance. It is not simply a time period when troops are sent into battle. It is also a time when presidential power expands, when individual rights are often compromised. An altered rule of law in wartime is thought to be tolerable because wartimes come to an end, and with them a government‘s emergency powers. That, at least, is the way law and wartime are understood.

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