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Discriminating force

Just war and counterinsurgency

In the wake of September 11, 2001, it was widely claimed that a new era of warfare was upon us, an era of asymmetrical conflict in which the order of nation-states was confronted with a transnational, decentralized enemy spread around the globe. One consequence of this development was that the relevance of the just war tradition was called into question.

The architects and advocates of this new way of war spoke of conducting “full spectrum” war in which distinctions between war and peace, combatant and noncombatant, were dissolved. Conferences and journals addressed “the failures of just war” and questioned the effectiveness and applicability of the traditional criteria of waging a just war: legitimate authority, right intention, just cause, last resort, reasonable chance of success, discrimination and proportionality.


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