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Accountability for KillingMoral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America's Post-9/11 Wars$
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Neta Crawford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199981724

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199981724.001.0001

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Norms in Tension

Norms in Tension

Military Necessity, Proportionality, and Double Effect

(p.159) 3 Norms in Tension
Accountability for Killing

Neta C. Crawford

Oxford University Press

Military Necessity, Proportionality, and Double Effect: This chapter explores the system of normative beliefs and international law — including the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols — that is concerned with civilian immunity, military necessity and force protection. The chapter describes the moral reasoning that creates and excuses the category of collateral damage and asks whether foreseeable deaths ought to be excused. In the cases of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, the U.S. has taken important measures to reduce the effect of war on civilians. The current U.S. wars illustrate the uneven balance, or what may be better described as a deep tension between protecting noncombatant civilians, force protection, and military necessity. The notion of “necessary” military operations can be understood too broadly and that because deaths may often be foreseeable, we should not allow the doctrine of double effect to excuse unintended civilian deaths. Thus, while “collateral damage” might well be legal, there is still a moral problem that points to a legal lacuna.

Keywords:   international norms, international law, military necessity, proportionality, double effect, Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocols to the Geneval Conventions

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