May 2, 2003
The talk will focus on the limits of self-defense under international law, in the case of Iraq and more generally under the President's new National Security Strategy. As background, the National Security Strategy of the USA, issued in September 2002, states the following: “For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat – most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack. … We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. … The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”
Dr. Angela Stent is Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies in the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and Professor of Government at Georgetown University. From 1999 to 2001, she served in the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State in the Clinton and Bush administrations. An expert on Russian and Soviet politics and foreign policy, and on German foreign policy, she has published widely on: Soviet relations with Europe and the United States; Russian foreign policy; West and East German foreign policy; and East-West trade and technology transfer. Her latest book is Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, The Soviet Collapse and The New Europe (Princeton University Press). Her latest articles are: “Russia: Farewell to Empire?” World Policy Journal, Fall, 2002; and “America, Russia and Europe: A Realignment?” Survival, Winter, 2002-2003. She has been a consultant to the U.S. Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment and has participated in various task forces of the Council on Foreign Relations, including those on U.S.-Russian Relations, Transatlantic Relations and on NATO Enlargement. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Cold War Studies, World Policy Journal and Internationale Politik. She is on the Executive Board of the U.S.-Russia Business Forum and is a member of the Advisory Board of Women in International Security. She is on the Academic Advisory Board of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. Dr. Stent received her B.A. from Cambridge University, her MSc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science and her M.A. and PhD. from Harvard University.