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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Ethics, Law and Military Operations

ISBN 9780230221703
Publication Date December 2010
Formats Hardcover Ebook Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

Public anger at perceived ethical and legal failures in recent wars has reinforced the importance of understanding military ethics. Ethics, Law and Military Operations is one of the first texts to examine both the ethical and the legal considerations of contemporary military conflict. It adopts a practical approach to explore the ways in which legal and normative issues combine to affect the entire spectrum of military operations, from high-intensity conflict to peacekeeping activities and the provision of humanitarian aid.

With an operational perspective in mind, this text delivers accessible frameworks for evaluating and applying fundamental legal and ethical concepts. Written by an international team of military practitioners and academics, this book provides interdisciplinary insights into the major issues facing military decision-makers. The first half of the book explores the ethical and legal underpinnings of warfare. Later chapters use case studies to examine specific issues in the contemporary operating environment.

DAVID WHETHAM is Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies, King's College London, UK and is based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in the UK Defence Academy. His research focuses on the ethical dimensions of warfare and the development of the laws of war.

Introduction Purpose Content and Structure
Ethics, Law and Military Operations
A View From Realism
A Nonviolent Challenge to Conflict
The Just War Tradition A Pragmatic Compromise
War Law and its Intersections
Law at the Operational Level
Civilian Protection and Force Protection
The Ethical Challenge of the Complex Security Environment
Understanding Atrocities: What Commanders Should do to Prevent Them
To Whom Does a Military Medical Commander Owe a Moral Duty?
The Ethics of Nuclear Deterrence
The Ethical and Legal Challenges of Operational Command.


Displaying a rare combination of intellectual rigour and practical wisdom, this highly recommended volume shows how the interplay of law and ethics affects and constrains the planning and execution of modern military campaigns.' - Don Carrick, Military Ethics Education Network, University of Hull
'Engaging with and developing a genuine understanding of ethical and legal principles is an essential part of professional military education. I therefore welcome this timely contribution.'- General Sir David Richards
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