Synopses & Reviews
On the surface, "wartime" is a period of time in which a society is at war. But we now live in what President Obama has called "an age without surrender ceremonies," where it is no longer easy to distinguish between times of war and times of peace.
In this inventive meditation on war, time, and the law, Mary Dudziak argues that wartime is not as discrete a time period as we like to think. Instead, America has been engaged in some form of ongoing overseas armed conflict for over a century. Meanwhile policy makers and the American public continue to view wars as exceptional events that eventually give way to normal peace times. This has two consequences: first, because war is thought to be exceptional, "wartime" remains a shorthand argument justifying extreme actions like torture and detention without trial; and second, ongoing warfare is enabled by the inattention of the American people. More disconnected than ever from the wars their nation is fighting, public disengagement leaves us without political restraints on the exercise of American war powers.
"Dudziak (Exporting American Dreams) riffs on the meaning of wartime and its legal implications in this brief cultural history. She examines the meaning of wartime in American history and notes that 'an essential aspect of wartime is that it is temporary.' Because war is seen as provisional, Americans have been willing to accept 'exceptional policies' that enhance presidential power and erode civil liberties a view generally endorsed by the courts. What if, Dudziak asks, 'American war spills beyond tidy time boundaries' and wartime becomes 'normal time'? The executive branch, she contends, has defined the war on terror along the lines of the cold war, as an ideological conflict with no boundaries. Dudziak laments that the courts generally have continued to treat wartime as temporary even though its meaning has changed. Wartime, she concludes, has 'become a policy, rather than a state of existence' and need not cause us to suspend our principles. Closely argued and clearly written, this is a scholarly work with popular appeal. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Mary L. Dudziak
is Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law School. Her books include Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey
and Cold War Civil Rights
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. What Time is It?
2. When Was World War II?
3. What Kind of War Was the Cold War?
4. What is a War on Terror?