The Frontlines Bulletin: Libya: Our First Cosmopolitan War?

The Frontlines Bulletin: Libya: Our First Cosmopolitan War?

It is arguably the first military conflict—certainly the first fought by the leading participants from the West—fought under the legal supervision of the International Criminal Court. American authorities may think they are holding to special constraints here, because it is “only” a humanitarian mission. The distinction may not seem at all so clear to others—even in NATO countries. The Statute of the International Criminal Court, for example, makes no distinction between rules that apply in well-meaning interventions as compared with other conflicts. What we have embraced in Libya is a set of rules that make effective war-making very difficult. What all of this means is that commanders must focus on limiting the enemy’s immediate military capacities, but not seek to impose larger costs on the opposing country or government in the conflict. Does NATO take this seriously? It seems to take these rules very seriously indeed. In most wars, continuation of fighting risks escalation of war aims and war methods. That provides an incentive for the weaker side to stand down earlier. Here, NATO seems to have tied its hands from the outset.



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Very respectfully,

The Warrant


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