Search results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 10 items for :

  • "principle of noncombatant immunity" x
  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
Abstract only
Second edition
Author: A. J. Coates

Though the just war tradition has an ancient pedigree, like any tradition of thought, it is subject to historical highs and lows. Drawing on examples from the history of warfare from the Crusades to the present day, this book explores the limits and possibilities of the moral regulation of war. It focuses on the tensions which exist between war and morality. The moral ambiguity and mixed record of that tradition is acknowledged and the dangers which an exaggerated view of the justice or moral worth of war poses are underlined. The adoption of a 'dispositional' view of ethical life, in which moral character and moral culture play a decisive part, widens and transforms the ethics of war. Realism resists the application of morality to war. Pacifism harms and benefits the just war tradition in about equal measure. In opposition to the amoral and wholly pragmatic approach of the 'pure' realist, the just war theorist insists on the moral determination of war where that is possible, and on the moral renunciation of war where it is not. Moral realism is what the just war tradition purports to be about. Legitimate authority has become entirely subordinated to the concept of state sovereignty. If moderate forms of consequentialism threaten the principle of noncombatant immunity, more extreme or purer forms clearly undermine it. The strategic and the ethical problems of counterterrorism are compounded by the emergence of a new and more extreme form of terrorism.

A. J. Coates

. (Vitoria 1991, p. 315)2 The problems associated with siege warfare in the Renaissance period have become generalized and commonplace with the development of modern warfare. This development has made both the interpretation and the application of the principle of noncombatant immunity increasingly difficult. Noncombatant immunity251 In part the difficulty lies in the sheer destructive power of modern weaponry, combined with greatly improved methods of delivery that enable a force to strike far behind enemy lines, thus rendering all citizens vulnerable to attack. The

in The ethics of war
A. J. Coates

widespread neglect of the ius ad bellum issue of the agent’s status leads to a premature emphasis on the question of noncombatant targeting, deflecting moral attention away from other potential terrorist killings. The principle of noncombatant immunity is commonly regarded as an instrument of moral restraint, which it is, but it also acts, crucially, as a form of moral empowerment by removing the immunity of enemy combatants. By engaging the principle without prior scrutiny of the terrorist’s claim to war we are in danger of condoning, by implication and without argument

in The ethics of war
Abstract only
A. J. Coates

that appear ineffectual and out of reach (the principle of noncombatant immunity is perhaps a good example), and to replace them with principles that are more in accord with the ‘facts’. Over time this substitution would have the effect of transforming the moral culture within which all moral agents necessarily act. In the course of this transformation the category of acts that are considered to be morally impermissible would contract and the category of permissible acts would expand (the targeting of noncombatants, for example, would be transferred from the former

in The ethics of war
A. J. Coates

stringent as that applied to conventional or interstate conflict. More often than not, however, double standards are used, and a greatly abbreviated and therefore much less demanding form of just war reasoning is applied to the war of revolution.8 The principle of noncombatant immunity, for example, often struggles to survive the movement from conventional to revolutionary or insurgent warfare, in theory and not just in practice. The tendency among theorists sympathetic to the revolutionary cause is to relax this important criterion of just conduct. In the first place the

in The ethics of war
Abstract only
A. J. Coates

World War, for example, was defended by its architect, the head of Bomber Command, Air Marshal Harris, in terms such as these. The strategy was condemned by moral critics as a systematic violation of the principle of noncombatant immunity. Harris’s defence lay partly Realism45 in a reaffirmation of the justice of the Allies’ cause and partly in a radical scepticism about the moral potentiality of war itself. The blame for the war and all its attendant suffering lay with those who had inflicted war on the world in the first place. No blame attached to the Allies for

in The ethics of war
Abstract only
A. J. Coates

infringing the sovereignty of other states in a much graver and more obvious way. Such strategic benefits should not be underestimated. However, the policy is highly controversial and the strength of the strategic case for drones is matched by the strength of the moral objections levelled against their use.12 The policy raises a number of ethical problems, all of them serious, some fundamental. In the first place, drone attacks struggle to comply with the principle of noncombatant immunity. The victims of drone attacks fall into three categories. In the first group are

in The ethics of war
Abstract only
Some moral aspects and variables
A. J. Coates

defeat was real and its consequences would have been cataclysmic not just for Britain but, arguably, for the world at large. In that conjunction of circumstances, the temporary overriding of the principle of noncombatant immunity and the ‘terror’ bombing of Germany find a limited and hesitant justification in Walzer’s account. But this is a case of interstate warfare. The question here is whether a similar defence should be mounted for attacks on noncombatants by non-­state or sub-­state terrorist organizations? In Just and Unjust Wars, Walzer is not inclined to mount

in The ethics of war
Abstract only
A. J. Coates

moral sense: far from requiring economy in the use of force, militarism induces overkill. Militarism poses as great a threat to the principle of noncombatant immunity as it does to the principle of proportionality. The ruthless and indiscriminate prosecution of war that it entails stems 78 Images of war from its extreme moral particularism, which contradicts the fundamental unity and moral equality of belligerents on the habitual and mutual recognition of which the moral conduct of war ultimately depends. In a just war adversarial status is limited, and the state

in The ethics of war
A. J. Coates

, strict precision bombing was the rule in the case of military targets located in noncombatant areas. This was the case even when it meant increased risks for the air crew involved. With the aid of ‘smart’ bombs and other advanced technology, precision Proportionality and the conduct of war239 bombing of a very high order was achieved and the loss of civilian life in the course of the raids was kept to a minimum. In view of this a strong claim can be made that the manner in which the bombing campaign was conducted upheld the principle of noncombatant immunity: the

in The ethics of war