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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: Decision to War and International Law (2010)
Publication Information:

Title: Decision to War and International Law (PDF) (2010)
Publication Information: I attempt recall the continued relevance of Hague Convention III, Relative to the Opening of Hostilities and to draw the connection between the just-war criteria and the declaring of war.

Title: Misunderstanding the Power to Declare War: Recognizing A Procedural and Textual Model (PDF) (2013)
Publication Information: In the face of congressional incapacity to declare war, suitable examples of of bodies that can declare war are needed. The Second Continental Congress is the most obvious example. But this paper argues that the United Nations Security Council and the texts of its resolutions offer a second viable example.


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