Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Can We Win a War If We Have to Fight by Cosmopolitan Rules?

Can We Win a War If We Have to Fight by Cosmopolitan Rules?

Abstract

After months of bombing, NATO achieved only a stalemate in Libya. That disappointing result may reflect NATO’s commitment to respect “international humanitarian law,” now understood to impose severe limits on military operations that might harm civilians. This body of rules is a departure from traditional understandings of the law of war. The embrace of these inhibiting rules raises serious questions about whether western nations are now prepared to fight and win actual wars.

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