Lawfare, according to Wikipedia, is ‘the illegitimate use of domestic or international law with the intention of damaging an opponent, winning a public relations victory, financially crippling an opponent, or tying up the opponent’s time.’ It is highly questionable what would constitute an ‘illegitimate use of the law’, but what is true is that certain people are turning to the courts as a political tool, and that some courts seem willing to help them by making what seem to be highly politicized judgements.
In March of this year, for instance, a US court ordered Iran to pay $10.5 billion in damages to relatives of victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. And today the US Supreme Court determined that Iran must pay almost $2 billion to relatives of Marines who died in an attack on their base in Beirut in 1983. Yet in an interview this week, US president Barack Obama opposed attempts to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. Obama declared: ‘If we open up the possibility that individuals in the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries.’ Thus it is o.k. for Americans to sue Iran for $10.5 billion for 9/11, even though Iran was not responsible, but not o.k. to sue Saudi Arabia, even though a link is much more likely.…Irrussianality
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa