Event / King's College, London

Book Launch – Enemies Known and Unknown w/ Jack McDonald and Sir Malcolm Rifkind

21 Jun 2017 – 18:30

Speakers: Dr Jack McDonald, Lecturer in Contemporary Conflicts in conversation with The Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

In his new book Jack McDonald states President Obama was elected on an anti-war platform, yet targeted killings increased under his command of the ‘War on Terror’. The US thinks of itself as upholding the rule of international law and spreading democracy, yet such targeted killings have been widely decried as extra-judicial violations of human rights. This book examines these paradoxes, arguing that they are partially explained by the application of existing legal standards to transnational wars.

Critics argue that the kind of war the US claims to be waging — transnational armed conflict — doesn’t actually exist. McDonald analyses the concept of transnational war and the legal interpretations that underpin it, and argues that the former Obama administration’s adherence to the rule of law produced a status quo of violence that is in some ways more disturbing than the excesses of the Bush administration.

America’s interpretations of sovereignty and international law shape and constitute war itself, with lethal consequences for the named and anonymous persons that it unilaterally defines as participants. In his talk McDonald will seek to show that his analysis helps us understand the social and legal construction of legitimate violence in warfare, and the relationship between legal opinions formed in US government departments and acts of violence half a world away.

Enemies Known and Unknown
Targeted Killings in America’s Transnational War
King's College, London
War Studies Meeting Room (K6.07)
King's College London
King's Building
London WC2R 2LS