“Driven by internationalization efforts such as those that accompanied the global efforts to combat the illicit drug trade, international law enforcement efforts by the United States have developed markedly over the past few decades. A notable element of this phenomenon has been the increased need by domestic law enforcement agencies to conduct extraterritorial law enforcement operations. This is especially so in “ungoverned spaces” — areas of the world where there is no governmental counterpart willing or able to take action. The U.S. response to transnational crime has, however, frequently taken on the characteristics of military action — a trend that has worried policy makers and senior military officials. A resort to military assets can be practical on multiple levels. But aside from the myriad practicalities which ordinarily compel national leaders to resort to the most capable organ of state power when difficult situations arise, there are also compelling international legal considerations that make the use of military force an even more tempting option when dealing with the unique challenges posed by transnational criminals operating outside the United States. In fact, as this Article demonstrates, the use of military force may frequently be the only option legally permissible under the current state of international law. This stems from a dramatic dichotomy in international law that tightly constrains the range of conduct permitted during extraterritorial civilian law enforcement operations while granting the military (in certain circumstances) wide latitude to carry out an almost unlimited range of invasive and even lethal activity.”
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