This chapter makes three claims. First, Lieber’s conception of necessity stems directly from his philosophical claim that sharp wars are brief. Second, the Lieberian conception of necessity is not a relic of the historical past but rather represents the basic structure of today’s laws of war. If one wants to know why today’s laws of war do so little to value the lives of combatants—while protecting civilians—one need look no further than Lieber’s claim that sharp wars are brief. Finally, the chapter evaluates Lieber’s argument and asks why the laws of war assign so little value to the lives of combatants. The chapter concludes with a very limited normative defense of this state of affairs, but the existing law will not emerge unscathed; reform is still required.
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