Tag: just war theory

Distance and Death: Lethal Autonomous Weapons and Force Protection

In 1941 Heinrich Himmler, one of the most notorious war criminals and mass murders, was faced with an unexpected problem: he could not keep using SS soldiers to murder the Jewish population because the SS soldiers were  breaking psychologically.   As August Becker, a member of the Nazi gas-vans, recalls,

“Himmler wanted to deploy people who had become available as a result of the suspension of the euthanasia programme, and who, like me, were specialists in extermination by gassing, for the large-scale gassing operations in the East which were just beginning. The reason for this was that the men in charge of the Einsatzgruppen [SS] in the East were increasingly complaining that the firing squads could not cope with the psychological and moral stress of the mass shootings indefinitely. I know that a number of members of these squads were themselves committed to mental asylums and for this reason a new and better method of killing had to be found.”

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Drones, Decapitation, ISA and Impossible Strategies

Yesterday at ISA, I participated on a panel on technology and international security. One of the topics addressed was the “successfulness” of the Obama administration’s decapitation/targeted killing strategy of terrorist leaders through unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones.” The question of success, however, got me to thinking. Success was described as the military effectiveness of the strikes, but this to me seems rather wrongheaded. For if something is militarily effective, then is so in relation to a military objective.

What is a military objective?   Shortly, those objects that “by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to the military action and whose partial or total destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.”  One may only target legitimate military objectives with permissible means. But even this requires knowing what the military advantage will be, and as such, requires a clear and identifiable strategy.

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Monstermind or the Doomsday Machine? Autonomous Cyberwarfare

Today in Wired magazine, James Bamford published a seven-page story and interview with Edward Snowden. The interview is another unique look into the life and motivations of one of America’s most (in)famous whistleblowers; it is also another step in revealing the depth and technological capacity of the National Security Agency (NSA) to wage cyberwar. What is most disturbing about today’s revelations is not merely what it entails from a privacy perspective, which is certainly important, but from an international legal and moral perspective.   Snowden tells us that the NSA is utilizing a program called “Monstermind.” Monstermind automatically hunts “for the beginnings of a foreign cyberattack. [… And then] would automatically block it from entering the country – a “kill” in cyber terminology.” While this seems particularly useful, and morally and legally unproblematic, as it is a defensive asset, Monstermind adds another not so unproblematic capability: autonomously “firing back” at the attacker.

Snowden cites two problems with this new tactic. First, he claims that it would require access to “all [Internet] traffic flows” coming in and outside of the US. This means in turn that the NSA is “violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time.” Second, he thinks it could accidentally start a war. More than this, it could accidentally start a war with an innocent third party because an attacking party could spoof the origin of the attack to make it look like another country is responsible. In cyber jargon, this is the “attribution problem” where one cannot with certainty attribute an attack to a particular party.

I however would like to raise another set of concerns in addition to Snowden’s: that the US is knowingly violating international humanitarian law (IHL) and acting against just war principles. First, through automated or autonomous responses, the US cannot by definition consider or uphold Article 52 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions. It will violate Article 52 on at least two grounds. First, it will violate Article 52(2), which requires states to limit their attacks to military objectives. These include “those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.” While one might object that the US has not ratified Additional Protocol I, it is still widely held as a customary rule. Even if one still holds this is not enough, we can still claim that autonomous cyber attacks violate US targeting doctrine (and thus Article 52(2)) because this doctrine requires that any military objective be created by a military commander and vetted by a Judge Advocate General, ensuring that targeting is compliant with (IHL). That a computer system strikes “back” without direction from a human being undermines the entire targeting process. Given that the defensive capacity to “kill” the attack is present, there seems no good reason to counter-strike without human oversight. Second, striking back at an ostensibly “guilty” network will more than likely have significant effect on civilian networks, property and functionality. This would violate the principle of distinction, laid down in Article 52(1).

If one still wanted to claim that the NSA is not a military unit, and any “strike back” cyber attack is not one taken under hostilities (thereby not being governed under IHL), then we would still require an entire theory (and body of law) of what constitutes a legitimate use of force in international law that does not violate the United Nations charter, particularly Article 2(4), which prohibits states from using or threatening to use force. One might object that a cyber attack that does not result in property damage or the loss of life is not subject to this prohibition. However, taking the view that such an attack does not rise to the level of an armed attack in international law (see for instance the Tallinn Manual), does not mean that such an attack is not a use of force, and thus still prohibited. Furthermore, defensive uses of force in international law are permissible only if they rise to the level of an armed attack (Article 51).

Second, autonomous cyber attacks cannot satisfy the just war principles of proportionality. The first proportionality principle has to do with ad bellum considerations of whether or not it is permissible to go to war. While we may view the “strike” as not engaging in war, or that it is a different kind of war, is another question for another day. Today, however, all we ought to consider is that a computer program automatically responds in some manner (which we do not know) to an attack (presumably preemptively). That response may trigger an additional response from the initial attacker – either automatically or not. (This is Snowden’s fear of accidental war.) Jus ad bellum proportionality requires a balancing of all the harms to be weighed against the benefits of engaging in hostilities. Yet, this program vitiates the very difficult considerations required. In fact, it removes the capacity for such deliberation.

The second proportionality principle that Monstermind violates is the in bello version. This version requires that one use the least amount of force necessary to achieve one’s goals. One wants to temper the violence used in the course of war, to minimize destruction, death and harm.   The issue with Monstermind is that prior to any identification of attack, and any “kill” of an incoming attack, someone has to create and set into motion the second step of “striking back.” However, it is very difficult, even in times of kinetic war, to proportionately respond to an attack. Is x amount of force enough? Is it too much? How can one preprogram a “strike back attack” to a situation that may or may not fit the proportionality envisioned by an NSA programmer at any given time? Can a programmer put herself into a position to envision how she would act at a given time to a particular threat (this is what Danks and Danks (2013) identify as the “future self-projection bias). Moreover, if this is a “one-size-fits-all” model of a “strike back” then that entails that it cannot by definition satisfy in bello proportionality because each situation will require a different type of response to ensure that one is using the minimal amount of force possible.

What all of this tells us, is that the NSA is engaging in cyberwar, autonomously, automatically and without our or our adversaries’ knowledge. In essence it has created not Monstermind, but the Doomsday Machine. It has created a machine that possesses an “automated and irrevocable decision making process which rules out human meddling” and thus “is terrifying, simple to understand, and completely credible and convincing” now that we know about it.

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Jus Ex Bello in Gaza

The New York Times recently reported that unidentified Israeli officials claimed that Israel is looking to unilaterally end the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. After more than 1800 Palestinian casualties in three weeks of fighting, international pressure to cease hostilities appears to be working. However, this strategy of the “silent treatment,” rather than a negotiated settlement may not be right course of action. In fact, there may be no morally right way forward, given the complexity of this case.

The anonymous Israeli officials told the Times that they did not want to “reward” Hamas with negotiations or a ceasefire. Thus Israel would merely wind down operations, since it has destroyed many of the tunnels it claimed were its primary objectives. The logic, reportedly, is that officials hope that a slow truce will take hold, as it did after hostilities in 2009. Continue reading

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How Do Americans Feel About Fully Autonomous Weapons?

Opinion_Ideology_AWSAccording to a new survey I’ve just completed, not great. As part of my ongoing research into human security norms, I embedded questions on YouGov’s Omnibus survey asking how people feel about the potential for outsourcing lethal targeting decisions to machines. 1000 Americans were surveyed, matched on gender, age, race, income, region, education, party identification, voter registration, ideology, political interest and military status. Across the board, 55% of Americans opposed autonomous weapons (nearly 40% were “strongly opposed,”) and a majority (53%) expressed support for the new ban campaign in a second question.
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“Invisible” Wars?

World Politics Review has a feature section in this issue on the “invisibility” of contemporary US wars, fought through covert ops, drone strikes and cyber attack rather than on conventional battlespaces. The issue is a thought-provoking read: Thomas Barnett aims a verbal fusillade at Obama’s “one-night-stand” foreign policy; scalding expositions on the illegality and perverse side effects of drone strikes come from Michael Cohen and Micah Zenko, respectively; and Steven Metz confirms the new “invisibility” of US military strategy.


Naturally, my contribution unpacks the whole notion of “invisible” war, putting it into its socio-political context:

Much digital ink has been spilled over how cyber and unmanned technologies are changing the nature of war, allowing it to be fought more secretly, more subversively and with greater discretion. But the single biggest shift in the sociology of war in the past quarter-century has been not in the way it is fought, but in the relationship between its grim realities and the perceptions of those on the home front. Indeed, it is precisely the increasing visibility of ordinary warfare due to communications technology that is driving U.S. efforts to redefine the rules of engagement. And ironically, this is resulting in an unraveling of old normative understandings about how to achieve human security.

Check out the whole set of essays here.

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The Obama Undoctrine: A Response to My… Critic?

If I read him correctly, Armed Liberal thinks that I advanced an argument for intervening in Libya and that this makes some people who opposed the Iraq War a bunch of hypocrites.

Or that my description of Obama’s justifications are accurate and that those justifications don’t sufficiently distinguish Libya from Iraq.

I’m not entirely sure. Probably because I’m still kind of sick and I’m very tired.

Regardless, AL raises some key issues after quoting my post:

That kind of thing makes liberal hawks get all starry eyed. But what makes Libya different than most of the other places where tyrannical governments do nasty things to their citizens isn’t terribly Wilsonsian:
* Qaddafi’s rule over Libya is, on balance, a net negative for US interests;

* The US doesn’t care much for most of his friends either;

* He’s sitting on not insignificant fossil fuel deposits;

* He has no real support among the great powers; and

* The UK, US, and France really, really, really don’t like the guy

Well, gosh, that’s not very useful. because if that’s good policy, then invading Iraq made perfect sense – and as we all know, the smart kids have all determined that it made no sense (I’m remaining on the fence myself, but I’m neither smart nor a kid).

Here’s the issue; in my work I’m talking to people all the time about the difference between a strategy and a platitude. Platitudes sound a lot like strategies, but there’s a key difference – they don’t help shape action in a meaningful way. So just as science requires that a theory be falsifiable in order to be scientific, strategy has to cover certain actions and not others, and group actions into necessary, good, unnecessary and bad.

And unless the modern foreign-policy commentariat can a) make up a strategy that distinguishes Libya from Iraq (except by saying that for the fact that one is the product of a good president, and one the product of a bad one), or b) determine that Iraq was just as good a strategic idea as Libya – we’re flat out of strategies.

I  agree that, in some respects, Obama didn’t put an enormous amount of daylight between Libya and Iraq. He argued that the Libyan operation (1) is more multilateral in character, (2) doesn’t involve the deployment of major ground forces, and (3) conditions its success on outcomes short of regime change.

This last point struck many (or, at least me) as disingenuous, insofar as Obama made it pretty clear that the coalition wants Gaddafi gone. Thus, I’m not surprised to hear reports that the coalition is ramping up its covert and overt support for the rebels.

However, the more I think about these matters, the more I am convinced that Obama did—in substance if not  in his rhetoric—draw clear and sound distinctions between Libya and Iraq. Recognizing these distinctions, of course, does not require us to endorse either action. Rather, it assuages AL’s worry partisanship supplies the only warrant for disapproving of one but not the other.

1. The express justification for the Libyan intervention centers on preventing the imminent massacre of civilians and dissidents. This ties its legitimacy to responsibilitytoprotect norms. Although the Bush Administration invoked Saddam Hussein’s past campaigns of mass violence as grounds for the Iraq War, those campaigns had run their course by 2002. The major justifications for Iraq invoked rationales of preventive war (under the misleading label of “preemption”), i.e., that Saddam Hussein’s regime would, if not removed, acquire capabilities that it would direct against the United States.

2. It follows that one can rather straightforwardly argue for the Libyan intervention—on the grounds that it involves an imminent threat of mass violence triggering responsibility-to-protect obligations—and against the Iraq War—on the grounds that both no such basis existed and that the preventive-war criteria failed to withstand both normative and factual scrutiny. Indeed, the major humanitarian grounds for invading Iraq—which were not a central justification for the war, even if some have retconned them as such—rested on different moral claims than those at stake in Libya: namely, that military force (and military occupation) ought to be used to promote democratic regime change.

3. Thus, even if the Operation Odyssey Dawn results in Libya becoming more democratic, and even if we approve of this outcome, that does not make the strategic rationale for the Libyan intervention identical to that of the Iraq War.

4. The pragmatic considerations that I invoked in my post also provide a basis for distinguishing between Iraq and Libya. And here I refer not to the bullet points AL quotes—which I intended primarily to distinguish Libya from Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Syria—but to both explicit and implied arguments in the rest of the post, i.e., that the military risks posed by the intervention in Libya are orders of magnitude lower than those posed by Iraq. For example:

  • The US is not contemplating the occupation of Libya;
  • A power vacuum in Libya does not advantage a regional rival of the United States;
  • There are existing rebel forces on the ground that seek a unified post-Gaddafi Libya; and
  • The intervention, at least so far, smacks more of assisting ordinary Arabs then of imperial occupation.

Some of these differences may disappear in days or weeks, and others may not seem persuasive, but I’m fairly confident that the first two provide a significant basis for distinguishing Libya from Iraq on criteria of US national interests.

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Libya: West Running Out of Time?

If recent reports are correct, NATO is running out of time if it wants to use a no-fly zone to tilt the balance in favor of the rebels. The Russians and Chinese may eventually agree to a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution authorizing a no-fly zone, but efforts to secure their agreement will take time. And it is not at all clear that a no-fly zone will prove sufficient to overcome Gaddafi’s better-trained and equipped forces.

Thus, the debate over NATO (or NATO member-state intervention) needs to explicitly include the following issues:

  • Should NATO implement a no-fly zone in the absence of UNSC approval?
  • If it should, at what point does the cost of delay outweigh the value of UNSC approval?
  • If a no-fly zone cannot save the rebellion, what further measures should NATO be willing to undertake to oust Gaddafi?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I haven’t seen a slam-dunk argument for or against various forms of more pro-active NATO intervention. But I have seen a lot of arguments against intervention that should embarrass their sources. i.e., that do not frame the moral context in terms of a tyrant attempting to eradicate a popular uprising against his regime. There are many good reasons to still reject any form of foreign intervention given that context, but arguments that implicitly rely on deferring to the popular sovereignty of the Libyan people number not among them.

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“If You Want to Change the World, Change the Armies.”

I finally saw Men Who Stare at Goats this weekend. A significant number of reviews from last year when it came out reference the epigram to the film, “More of this stuff is true than you think.” However in my mind, the most important quote in the film is the one above.

If you try to read this film through any other lens – pacifism, spy culture, truth v. fiction re. the paranormal – it doesn’t work very well. That’s why a lot of reviewers either read the film as inept satire or as failed story-telling. But they don’t look closely at the two central questions driving the story: what constitutes just warriorhood, and can you incorporate an expansive view of just warriohood (one which includes respect for the planet) more fully into existing military institutions? In other words, how do you change armies in order to change (and maybe save) the world?

The first of these two themes is brought into sharp relief by the Jedi subtext associated with the New Earth Army. You can read its central feature as the use of psychic warfare or “Jedi mind-trick” mythology, but the Jedi language is also about something deeper: the just use of limited force in the service of peace, justice and (now) environmental security. Read through this lens (as opposed to some decisive statement about the possibility of psychic warfare), the ending is much more satisfactory than many reviewers claim. To be a “super-soldier” is to walk the path of the just warrior, to be on the side of the innocent and vulnerable, and to be at one with the universe of which we are part.

And how do you change armies to this effect? For part of the genius of the story is its contrast between these ideals and existing military culture. The film is a bit agnostic on this second point. So is the actual history on which it is based, which you can learn about by reading the book or watching the documentary on which the film was based. I leave it to readers to offer their thoughts about the take-home message there.

[cross-posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money]

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Even More Thoughts on Obama’s Oslo Speech

Obama has received a lot of credit and praise for his articulation of Just War doctrine in his Oslo speech. And, while I, like Charli, found a lot to like about the speech, I take exception to the way in which he set up the issue of Just War:

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.


First, let me say that I subscribe to the Just War doctrine. But all proponents of Just War need to be aware of the ambiguities, subjectivity, and moral consequences found within the contradictions of a position that claims a moral abhorrence to war and yet accepts its necessity at times. No war has lived up to the ideal type of Just War. And, the challenges of Just War doctrine will only become more complex with the confluence of such factors as technological innovation, which significantly reduces the domestic political costs of going to war; the emergence of new types of threats; emerging permissive norms of intervention; and so forth.

My broader concern, however, is with the caricature of pacifism and non-violence set up by Obama and the casualness with which he — and most Just War theorists — dismiss them. Obama rightly noted that neither King nor Gandhi were passive or naïve, and yet in the very next paragraph of his speech he dismisses their views precisely as passive and naïve when he states that as president, he has to “face the world as it is” – and “make no mistake” – “evil does exist.” And, then for good measure, he adds the standard canard that “a non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.”

It is absurd to imply that neither King nor Gandhi recognized the existence of evil – King endorsed the judicious use of police force to enforce laws precisely because he saw and understood the nature of evil (he rejected Tolstoy’s variant of pacifism on these grounds). Many pacifists accept the use of non-lethal force. But, King and Gandhi nonetheless rejected war on both moral and instrumental grounds – killing was morally wrong and violent means could never produce a just result. And, both King and Gandhi rejected passivism that they argued could lead to submission or slavery. Indeed, both suggested that those who failed to resist could be viewed as morally culpable as perpetrators of violence. They both advocated an overriding commitment to making and understanding peace and to active resistance.

Obama is not alone in his casual dismissal of non-violence. We all tend to reject it. Very few courses in IR theory, security studies, or war even address the topic of non-violence. Duane Cady points out that Walzer only gives the issue of non-violence a brief afterthought in an appendix before rejecting it as naïve. (How many of you have read Cady?)

This is surprising given that we now have some stunning empirical examples of effective non-violent civil resistance. This fall marked the 20th anniversary of non-violent popular protests that swept through East and Central Europe and accomplished what no one anticipated. Nine years ago this month, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was ousted from office through the power of massive civil protest. And, only a few years after that, he died alone in a jail cell in the Hague.

Just War theory says that use of force should be the last option and only considered when other alternatives are determined to be impractical or ineffective. My concern is that when we so casually dismiss non-violent resistance, when we fail to research and study non-violent civil protests, when we simply assume non-violent resistance is a naïve concept, it’s hard to believe that war and the use of force really are used as the last option……

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Set Phaser to Torment

The Pentagon’s “less-than-lethal” weaponry is finally going mainstream. Though the Active Denial System (ADS) has been under development for years, 60 Minutes has finally reported on it as if it’s the newest thing around. (Click here to see the 10-minute segment from Sunday’s show.)

Not exactly a hand-held phaser, and it doesn’t painlessly knock you out. Instead it sends a wave of directed energy at a person or a crowd that vibrates the water molecules under the skin. This induces a feeling of being on fire. But unlike actual flamethrowers, the pain only lasts until you move out of the beam.

Pentagon officials frame this as a humanitarian weapon that will save lives by giving US troops something to blaze away with other than a gun. They particularly tout its use for riot control, an easy way to disperse crowds in stability and support ops.

Opponents have some concerns. Quoth various commenters on Crooks and Liars:

“So when we have 2 groups of demonstators facing off against each other, which group will be zapped? The side that agrees with the current administration or the side that opposes it? This looks like a potentially serious threat to free speech.”

“So the military is basically afraid of it’s own people is the moral of this story. The weapon won’t be used in REAL battles, but when it comes to protesters/crowd control it’s ok. So when does the US military officially take over complete control of the US in the form of a advertised coup?”

“A weapon like this is a clear infringement of our Constitutional rights to peacefully assemble for a redress of our grievances. It is unconstitutional. Period.”

A “humane” weapon? Frankly I think I’d rather be burnt to death in a space of three minutes than stuck in a “non-lethal” agonizer ray indefinitely, as might happen if I’m a small child being trampled in a panicked crowd. Although as a matter of fact, being basically a microwave beam, more likely it would eventually cook that small child inside out and kill her anyway.

Perhaps revisiting of the basic just war principles of discrimination, proportionality and unnecessary suffering might be in order here.

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Just Warrior or Just Misinformed?


So my Spring Semester class “Rules of War” has kicked off here at Pitt. I’ve been inspired by the Duck to foreswear Blackboard and get my students blogging (pseudononymously, of course) for their online participation grade. This week’s homework: evaluate whether Lieutenant Ehren Watada’s defense at his court martial last February constituted an accurate interpretation of the international rules derived from just war theory.

Facts of the matter: Lieutenant Watada joined the US Army after 9/11 but refused to deploy to Iraq with his unit because in his view, the war was illegal. He has since faced courts-martial by the US Government on charges of conduct unbecoming an officer, among others. The original case ended in mistrial; the USG is attempting to court-martial him again, though he is now claiming double-jeopardy. If convicted, he faces six years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. A grassroots campaign entitled “Thank You, Lt. Watada,” largely peopled by anti-war activists, has cropped up in support of his claims.

Is Watada a “just warrior” as his supporters claim or does the logic of his defense represent a misunderstanding of international law? I would argue (in case my students wonder post-hoc how I would have answered the homework question) that both are the case.

Just war theory is a moral tradition comprised of two distinct strands: jus ad bellum, dealing with resort to war (whether or not the war is justified) and jus in bello, dealing with conduct during war. (Like, whether or not you shoot surrendering soldiers.) The two are distinct insofar as it’s possible to fight a just war unjustly or an unjust war justly.

Correspondingly, two distinct international legal regimes govern the initiation and conduct of armed violence. The UN Charter regime outlaws interstate war with certain exceptions corresponding roughly to just war principles. The law of armed conflict codified in the Hague and Geneva conventions spells out jus in bello rules, including how armed force may be used and how non-combatants must be treated if they come under the power of an enemy force. Whereas the UN Charter Regime applies to states only, individual soldiers may be prosecuted for grave violations of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, or jus in bello rules.

This distinction matters a great deal in evaluating the merits of Watada’s case.

Let me be clear: I greatly admire Watada’s principled stand. But his defense hinges on the idea that if he fought “an illegal war” he would be party to “war crimes.” That’s not true. He’d only be party to war crimes if he fought a war using illegal means. Had Watada gone to war, he would have been morally and legally required to disobey unlawful orders, such as orders to torture prisoners or shoot at unarmed civilians. Were he tried for insubordination, he could then defend himself in terms of the Geneva Conventions and Hague Law, which prohibit war crimes.

But no soldier has the right under international law to critique his/her government’s decision to go to war, whether legal or not. Going to war illegally is not a war crime and is not the responsibility of the individual soldier. It’s a whole separate category of crime for which civilian leaders are (supposed to be) held accountable. Watada’s claim otherwise simply shows that he was never properly trained in the laws of war.

Was the Iraq war illegal? As far as I can tell, yes, since the US was neither defending itself against an attack nor acting under the authority of the UN Security Council. Perhaps then it’s fair to call Watada a “hero” for taking this stand. Certainly he’s not a coward, as his detractors claim, since he requested to be sent to Afghanistan instead, and since there’s really nothing more courageous than standing up to your government on principle in a time of war.

Does any of this constitute a legal defense for Watada’s refusal to deploy? Not at all.

Watada may be a just warrior in the moral sense, but the law itself is not on his side. The law protects only those soldiers who resist violations of jus in bello rules, or “war crimes,” not “crimes against the peace” – it’s diplomats who make those decisions.

One can admire Watada’s moral courage. But he should accept the consequences of his civil disobedience as Dr. King would have. And he would do the general public a service if he would demonstrate and disseminate an understanding of the international laws he claims to uphold.

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