The American way of bombing and international law : two logics of warfare in tension
The American way of bombing : changing ethical and legal norms, from flying fortresses to drones
Ithaca (Etats-Unis) ; London : Cornell University Press, 2014
This chapter shows that there are two fundamentally different notions of what the distinction between civilians and combatants in war ought to look like. One is exemplified in recent U.S. doctrine, specifically air force doctrine, which is inspired by a long line of strategic thinking about air power. The other understanding of distinction emerges from a systematic interpretation of the positive international law that defines a legitimate target of attack as codified in the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 3 June 1977. The chapter demonstrates that these diverging notions of what it means to properly distinguish in war are indicative of the struggle between two fundamentally different visions for how combat operations ought to be conducted. The law, when interpreted systematically, aims to regulate warfare by allowing only the targeting of that which needs to be open to engagement if a competition between two militaries is to proceed. It envisions warfare to follow a logic of sufficiency. The alternative approach to distinction prescribes attacking what helps end the war most quickly and achieve its political goals most directly. It is based on a logic of efficiency. The two logics have radically different implications for which parts of a modern society can become objects of attack from the air.