International lawyers and ethicists have long judged wars from the perspective of the state and its actions, developing international humanitarian law by asking such questions as "Are the belligerents justified in entering the conflict?" and "How should they conduct themselves during the war's execution?" and "When civilian noncombatants are harmed, who is responsible for their suffering?" This book reimagines the ethics of war from the standpoint of its collateral victims, focusing on the effects of war on individuals—on those who are terrorized, or killed, or whose lives are violently disrupted. Through case studies of the Iraq War and the recent Gaza conflicts, Smith shows how even combatants who profess to follow the laws of war often engage in appalling violence and brutality, cutting short civilian lives, ruining economies, rending social fabrics, and collapsing public infrastructure. A focus on the human dimension of warfare makes clear the limits of international humanitarian law, and underscores how human rights perspectives increase its efficacy.
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