Harvard international law journal, Vol. 59, no. 1, Winter 2018, p. 1-57
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This article confronts one of the most difficult and contested questions in the debate about targeted killing that has raged in academic and policy circles over the last decade. Suppose that, in wartime, the target of a military strike may readily be neutralized through nonlethal means such as capture. Do the attacking forces have an obligation to pursue that nonlethal alternative? The Article defends the duty to employ less restrictive means (“LRM”) in wartime, and it advances several novel arguments in defense of that obligation. The author argues that the most plausible LRM obligation exists as a limitation embedded within the necessity principle itself. Indeed, the principle of military necessity supports not one, but two, related LRM restraints. The first restraint prohibits the killing of combatants for reasons unrelated to the pursuit of military advantage. The second restraint demands that lethal force benefit from a cognizable expectation of military advantage. The article develops and defends these claims and anticipates objections.