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




Author: Michael L. Gross
Type: eBook
Date Released: 2009
Format: pdf
Language: English
Page Count: 336
Isbn10 Code: 0521685109
Isbn13 Code: 9780521685108


Review "Michael Gross has written a thoughtful, lucid book about the dilemma of 'asymmetric conflict,' as when a nation confronts a terrorist movement or other insurgency that does not observe the laws of war and, more important, does not have a structure or employ tactics against which conventional military force is fully effective. To be limited in fighting such a group by the conventional laws of war is to fight terror and insurrection with one hand tied behind one's back; and, depending on the gravity of the threat posed by such a group, the question becomes how far if at all the nation should depart from the conventional rules of armed combat. The need to balance military necessity with humanitarianism, with regard to such practices as brutal interrogation, assassination, and disabling but nonlethal gas, is the theme of the book; and as Gross states in the conclusion, 'dogmatism is not the answer." - Richard Posner, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit "This is a must-read book for everyone interested in the question of morality and modern war. Gross's focus, asymmetric warfare, is the new face of armed conflict. In contrast to other authors who have written on various aspects of this subject, Gross's treatment includes all the significant ways in which this kind of war is different from the models assumed in the law of armed conflict and in most moral analysis, including changes in the meaning of combatancy and noncombatancy, implications for prohibited weapons and for nonlethal ones, modes of warfare including terrorism, torture, and assassination, and asymmetric warfare in the case of humanitarian intervention. His analysis and argument are thorough, insightful, and challenging. Readers may disagree with Gross's conclusions on various issues, but the importance of this book is that it establishes a baseline from which both agreement and disagreement can point towards better thinking about the moral parameters of such warfare and possible changes in the law of armed conflict." - James Turner Johnson, Rutgers University "Discusses ways of reconciling new forms of warfare with international law, including what is termed "targeted killing" and "enhanced interrogation." --The Chronicle of Higher Education "Gross is known for bringing a sharp intellect and a keen moral sense to the perplexing character of modern war... In this book, Gross considers the prominent role of civilians in contemporary conflicts -- including wars initiated to protect the welfare of oppressed civilians and those in which enemies use noncombatants as shields or targets... this is a book that will keep you thinking." --Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs [May/June 2010] "....In this important book, Gross (Univ. of Haifa, Israel) explores the moral dilemmas of postmodern war, focusing on such issues as targeted killing, torture, terrorism, and the use of nonlethal weapons.... This clearly written book will be of general interest to students and scholars of international political ethics and military security and of special concern to government officials responsible for national security policy in the postmodern era.... Highly recommended...." --M. Amstutz, Wheaton College, CHOICE Book Description 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?

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