23 Jun Farewell to Professor Michael Lewis: A Tireless and Important Voice on the Law of Armed Conflict
I want to join the others in the legal blogosphere in expressing my shock and sadness at the loss of Professor Michael Lewis. Mike and I were fellow travelers on many legal and political issues, and I learned long ago that I would learn more from him on the law of armed conflict than he could learn from me.
As Professor Tom Lee of Fordham notes in his comment to Chris’s post below, Mike was an experienced naval aviator who overlapped in his time of service in the Navy with Tom. Mike brought operational insights to the law of armed conflict, as his article on aerial bombardment during the First Gulf War in the American Journal of International Law showed. But his background in the Navy was only a part of his identity as a legal scholar. Mike was steadfast in working to develop a workable approach to the law of armed conflict that would satisfy both operational concerns and also strategic policy goals.
Mike was truly indefatigable. He would go anywhere, or take to any venue, to debate or discuss his views on LOAC and drone strikes in particular. Of course, he did not find many folks who agreed with him, but he always treated his interlocuters with respect and dignity. He wanted to debate, argue, and continue to debate and discuss. He would do this for even the most sensitive and controversial issues.
Indeed, I first met Michael when he recruited me to speak on a panel he organized at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Professors on one of those topics: U.S. interrogation policies and torture. I was not exactly excited to be on the panel, given the reaction I was sure we would receive, but Michael worked hard to keep our discussion civil and useful. I was impressed with his willingness to tackle this topic, and his willingness to take a controversial and unpopular approach.
Michael was an important and thoughtful academic voice on some of the most important legal questions facing us today. I will miss him.