Major General Qasem Soleimani

Information Lawfare: Messaging and the Moral High Ground

The U.S. legal system is known as the envy of the world. Yet law as an instrument of national power has been woefully understudied. Traditional academic frameworks for studying the instruments of national power do not consider the full potential of law to be used as a weapon of war between states, a concept known as “lawfare.” Meanwhile, U.S. adversaries understand that law can be a potent weapon, both to achieve concrete military objectives and to win battles in the information domain, and have wielded it against the U.S. As war escalates in the information domain, information lawfare will be a critical piece of any party’s strategy.

Through a case study of the U.S.’s strike that killed Iranian Major General Soleimani in January 2020, Jill I. Goldenziel demonstrates how information lawfare can be used, and why the U.S. must develop its offensive and defensive lawfare capabilities. This paper won a prize in the 2020 Air Force Judge Advocate General School’s National Security Law Writing Competition.

Lead Author

Jill Goldenziel
Professor of International Law and International Relations, Marine Corps University-Command and Staff College. Dean’s Visiting Scholar, Georgetown University Law Center.
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