The Counterinsurgent’s Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars, a book by Assistant Professor of Law Ganesh Sitaraman, has won the 2013 IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize.
Sitaraman’s winning book, published in December 2012 by Oxford University Press, explores the intersection of law and counterinsurgency strategy. According to Sitaraman, counterinsurgency became America’s dominant approach for achieving its national security goals abroad after the 2006 “surge” in Iraq. However, controversy and debate surround counterinsurgency as a strategy, both for its military effectiveness overseas and the unexplored legal path it takes us down here at home. In the book, Sitaraman outlines how law operates during counterinsurgency and explains why following the laws of war is both morally and strategically beneficial. He concludes that law and counterinsurgency are not only united, but they also actively reinforce one another.
A member of the Vanderbilt Law School faculty since 2011, Sitaraman focuses on issues in public law, ranging from foreign relations and international law to domestic regulation and institutional design. From 2011-13, he served as policy director and senior counsel to candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Sitaraman has been a research fellow at the Counterinsurgency Training Center at Camp Julien in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a visiting fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is a principal of the Truman National Security Project and was recently named a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where he will work on issues ranging from economics to national security.
Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Sitaraman was the public law fellow and a lecturer at Harvard Law School. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in government and then earned a master’s degree in political thought and intellectual history from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was the Lionel de Jersey Harvard scholar. Sitaraman also graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on the Harvard Law Review. He clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize was established in 2007 by IIT Chicago-Kent alumnus Roy C. Palmer and his wife, Susan M. Palmer, to honor an exemplary work of scholarship exploring the tension between civil liberties and national security in contemporary American society, and to encourage and reward public debate among scholars on current issues affecting the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of governments throughout the world. Previous recipients include David D. Cole and Jules L. Lobel for their book Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (The New Press), Harold H. Bruff for Bad Advice: The President’s Lawyers in the War on Terrorism (University Press of Kansas), Scott M. Matheson, Jr., for Presidential Constitutionalism in Perilous Times (Harvard University Press), Gabriella Blum and Philip B. Heymann for Laws, Outlaws, and Terrorists: Lessons from the War on Terrorism (Harvard University Press), Laura A. Dickinson for Outsourcing War and Peace: Preserving Public Values in a World of Privatized Foreign Affairs (Yale University Press), and Susan N. Herman for Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy (Oxford University Press).