This essay was first prepared for a book roundtable co-hosted by the Institute for International Law and Public Policy at Temple University Beasley School ofLaw and the National Constitution Center on September 15, 2017.

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This response focuses on one of the most difficult questions posed by Rosa Brooks's How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: How should the erosion of the war / peace dichotomy impact the justifications for the use of lethal force by the United States government and what, if any, role is there for law in this context? While Brooks is unambiguously critical of Bush administration legal policies that asserted expansive executive war powers, she is less certain about the Obama administration's own reliance on the war paradigm to justify its targeted killing policies. While describing these policies as “undermining the international rule of law,” Brooks declines to take a firm stance on whether they are lawful or unlawful, and she rejects the views of critics who would “jam war back into its old box.” It is a credit to Brooks that she is willing to acknowledge such ambivalence, but her approach comes at a cost. It is difficult to maintain a critical stance on governmental policy while simultaneously undermining the very legal foundations that most plausibly support that stance. In this way, critique quickly turns into apology.