In Defence of Guerrillas

Uwe Steinhoff

About author

Uwe Steinhoff
University of Hong Kong

Abstract


This article examines the moral issues of guerrilla, and counter-guerrilla, warfare. Just war theorists who have studied the phenomenon tend to claim that the guerrilla tactic of wearing civilian clothes and hiding among the civilian population is rather difficult, if at all, to reconcile with the ius in bello principle of discrimination (the principle according to which combatants have to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and may only target the former “directly”). I argue that this ever-repeated assessment is profoundly confused. I also argue, conversely, against the claim that this guerrilla tactic makes it somehow easier for the counter-insurgents to comply with the principle of discrimination, thereby easily allowing them to resort to tactics like area bombardment. Finally, I demonstrate that, contrary to common opinion, guerrilla war does not face greater difficulties in complying with ius ad bellum requirements than conventional or counter-insurgency war does.

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References


  1. Nancy Davis, The Doctrine of Double Effect: Problems of Interpretation, “Pacific Philosophical Quarterly” (65) 1984: 107-123.
  2. Leslie Green, The Authority of the State, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008.
  3. Jeffrie G. Murphy, The Killing of the Innocent, “The Monist” (57) 1973.
  4. Paul Ramsey, The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham 2002.
  5. William V. O’Brien, The Conduct of Just and Limited War, Praeger, New York 1981.
  6. A. John Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1981.
  7. Uwe Steinhoff, On the Ethics of War and Terrorism, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2007.
  8. Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, Basic Books, New York 2000.

DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.23.2010.383

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/383
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/383/en

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