Moral Dilemmas of Modern War: Torture, Assassination, and Blackmail in an Age of Asymmetric Conflict

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-11-30
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Asymmetric conflict is changing the way that we practise and think about war. Torture, rendition, assassination, blackmail, extortion, direct attacks on civilians, and chemical weapons are all finding their way to the battlefield despite longstanding international prohibitions. This book offers a practical guide for policy makers, military officers, students, and others who ask such questions as: Do guerillas deserve respect or long jail sentences? Are there grounds to torture guerillas for information or assassinate them on the battlefield? Is there room for nonlethal weapons to subdue militants and safeguard the lives of noncombatants? Who are noncombatants in asymmetric war? What is the status of civilians who shelter and aid guerillas? And, do guerillas have any right to attack civilians, particularly those who aid and shelter members of the stronger army? If one side can expand the scope of civilian vulnerability, then why can't the other?

Author Biography

Michael L. Gross is professor of political science and chair of the Department of International Relations at the University of Haifa, Israel. He is the author of Ethics and Activism: The Theory and Practice of Political Morality (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and Bioethics and Armed Conflict: Moral Dilemmas of Medicine and War (2006).

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
List of Abbreviationsp. xiii
Torture, Assassination, and Blackmail in an Age of Asymmetric Conflictp. 1
A Brief Rundownp. 5
Fundamental Characteristicsp. 8
Types of Asymmetric Conflictp. 13
Dilemmas and Paradoxes of Asymmetric Conflictp. 21
Friends, Foes, or Brothers in Arms? The Puzzle of Combatant Equalityp. 26
The Idea of Combatant Equalityp. 27
Combatant (In)Equality in Asymmetric Warp. 34
Assigning Combatant Equality in Asymmetric Warp. 45
Combatants in Asymmetric War
Shooting to Kill: The Paradox of Prohibited Weaponsp. 54
Limiting the Way We Killp. 54
Superfluous Injury and Unnecessary Sufferingp. 55
Banned Weapons Todayp. 58
Unnecessary Suffering in Asymmetric Warp. 62
Shooting to Stun: The Paradox of Nonlethal Warfarep. 77
The Nature of Nonlethal Weaponsp. 78
Can They Work?p. 85
Are They Legal?p. 90
The Future of Nonlethal Weaponsp. 98
Murder, Self-Defense, or Execution? The Dilemma of Assassinationp. 100
What Is Assassination and Targeted Killing?p. 101
Targeted Killing: An Effective Tactic of War?p. 111
Reassessing Targeted Killing and Assassinationp. 117
Torture and Assassinationp. 121
Human Dignity or Human Life: The Dilemmas of Torture and Renditionp. 122
The Torture Debate Todayp. 124
Justifying Interrogational Torturep. 133
Rendition and Interrogationp. 139
The Dilemma of the Torture Debatep. 144
Noncombatants in Asymmetric War
Blackmailing the Innocent: The Dilemma of Noncombatant Immunityp. 153
Noncombatant Immunity and Civilian Vulnerabilityp. 154
Reassessing Proportionality in Asymmetric Conflictp. 163
Human Shields and Inaccurate Weaponryp. 166
Deterrence, Demoralization, and Punishmentp. 174
Killing the Innocent: The Dilemma of Terrorismp. 178
Guerrilla-ism and Terrorismp. 179
Justifying the Heinousp. 182
The Limits of Defensible Terrorismp. 198
Fighting in the Shadow of Harm to Civiliansp. 201
Risking Our Lives to Save Others: Puzzles of Humanitarian Interventionp. 205
The Dilemma of Humanitarian Interventionp. 205
The Paradox of Humanitarian Interventionp. 213
Overcoming State Boundariesp. 219
Reasonable Costs for Nations and Citizensp. 223
Conclusion and Afterword
Torture, Assassination, and Blackmail: New Norms for Asymmetric Conflict?p. 233
Exceptionalism or the Rule?p. 234
Between Military Necessity and Humanitarianismp. 238
A Descent into Barbarism?p. 250
The War in Gaza, December 2008 to January 2009p. 253
Fighting a Zero-Tolerance Ground Warp. 254
Proportionality and Acceptable Harm to Civiliansp. 255
Saving Soldiers' Lives: At What Cost?p. 260
Notesp. 265
Selected Bibliographyp. 301
Indexp. 311
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