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Matsunaga Peace Institute Faculty

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Brien Hallett, BA in History, Coe College (1966); MA in English as a Second Language, University of Hawai'i, (1982); Phd in Political Science, University of Hawai'i, (1995).
Associate Professor
Office Location: Saunders 720
Phone Number: 956-4236
Fax Number: 956-9121


Brien Hallett teaches PACE-310, Survey of Peace and Conflict Studies, each semester. He also teaches PACE-412, Gandhi, King and Nonviolence, PACE-489, Hiroshima and Peace, and is principle instructor for PACE-495, Practicum.

Course Syllabi:


Brien Hallett's primary research interest is centered on the power to declare war. The initial results of his research were published as The Lost Art of Declaring War (University of Illinois Press, 1998). In constitutional terms, his principal conclusion is that the Congress cannot discharge its Article I, section 8 responsibility "to declare war." This congressional incapacity has created a functional vacuum, which the president has filled. In filling this functional vacuum, the president's actions have been misconstrued as leading to an imperial presidency, when, in point of fact, the president is only trying to make a dysfunctional constitutional system work. The reasons for the congressional dysfunction, as demonstrated in his recent book, "Declaring War: Congress, the President and What the Constitution Does Not Say" (Cambridge University Press, 2012), are two: First, the Congress is beset with overwhelming organizational issues. Due to its exceptional collective action problems, the Congress simple lacks the initiative and means "to declare war," as two hundred years of American history prove. Second, the Congress is a legislative body. As such, it legislates domestic laws to regulate relations between and among the citizens of the nation. The declaring of war, however, is not a domestic law and it does not regulate relations between and among American citizens. The declaring of war serves entirely different functions. It is a question of foreign affairs, and it regulates relations between and among nations. To fill the vacuum created by this congressional incapacity, Hallett has proposed two solutions in "Declaring War": First, a constitutional amendment to establish a fourth branch of government dedicated to the declaring of war and the treating of peace; and, second, a major reform of the Congress to establish a Joint Drafting Committee dedicated to the drafting of declarations of war modeled on the 1776 Declaration of Independence. The book may be purchased at or at

Hallett's secondary research interest is centered on a conceptual understanding of methods pioneered by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He is especially intrigued, first, by the close parallels between war and the campaigns led by Gandhi and King and, second, by their emphasis on the necessity of the coherence of ends and means. As Gandhi phrased the thought, the relationship of ends to means is as the tree is to the seed. For, is not the tree already found within the seed?


Political theory,speech act theory, theories of war and democracy, congressional war powers, sovereignty, human rights, and other issues in international law.


Title: Dishonest Crimes; Dishonest Language: An Argument about Terrorism (PDF) (2004)
Publication Information: This is my attempt to come to terms with the Bush Administrations "War on Terrorism."

Title: Just-War Criteria (PDF) (2008)
Publication Information: In this article, I try to demonstrate the universality of the just-war criteria across cultures.

Title: Definitions: What Is a Declaration of War? (PDF) (2014)
Publication Information: Strangely, the term "declaration of war" has ever been defined in either the international law literature of the constitutional law literature. All the definitions found are inadequate because they define only official declarations of war in a tautological manner. That is, they defined declarations of war as enactments that begin "That war be and the same is hereby declared to exist between X and Y." But that is not the problem. Rather, the problem is defining the declarative act in such a manner as to contrast official declarations of war usefully with their functionally equivalent simulacra. It is, of course, the functionally equivalent simulacra that cause all the trouble and confusion. The document found here is a chapter from a book manuscript I am working on entitled, "Definitions: What Is a Declaration of War?" In the chapter, I attempt to provide a glossary of some of the key terms needed to talk about declarations of war.

Title: An Outline of the Just-War/Action Criteria (PDF) (2014)
Publication Information: A clear understanding of the just-war criteria is essential for the drafting of declarations of war. The reason for this is that, when the initiation of a war is broached, the first question that everyone asks is, "Why?" In response, the declarer of war must give his reasons, "Because. . . ." But, to fill in the dots, the declarer needs to answer each of the ad bellum criteria in turn. Needless to say, this is the optimal response. It is seldom done. The only example of a fully reasoned declaration of war in American history is the Declaration of Independence. Recently, I have had think in greater depth about the criteria. My first conclusion is the just-war criteria are unfairly labeled "the just-war criteria." Rather, they really respond to any and all actions. As an ethical or moral issue, whenever one decides to act--to do anything--that person should ask, "Why am I going to do X?" In response, this person must give his reasons, "Because. . . ." But, again, in order to fill in the dots, one has to respond to each of the ad actionem criteria in turn. Hence, the criteria are really just-action criteria. My second conclusion is that the criteria are more complex than is generally assumed. To show this complexity, three different versions are reproduced below, followed by the more complex listing I have working toward. In particular, because of my work on the declaring of war, I have become aware of the importance and the complexity of the procedural criteria.


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