Suspending consideration of the strategic questions that would factor into the decision, how would the U.S. justify a pre-attack strike on North Korea under international law? And how would the rest of the world react?
More than any other policy area, the conduct of security affairs implicates legal systems beyond our own domestic law. Despite a deep-seated American distrust of international law, a web of international norms, treaties and agreements compels the United States to defend its conduct in terms intelligible to the world at large. As policymakers grapple with issues from cyberwar to targeted killings, legal expertise in international humanitarian law, the law of armed conflict, and a myriad other areas of international law will only become more crucial.