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Home > Catalogue > Moral Dilemmas of Modern War
Moral Dilemmas of Modern War


  • Page extent: 336 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.5 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521685108)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 09:07 GMT, 03 October 2015)


Asymmetric conflict is changing the way that we practise and think about war. Torture, rendition, assassination, blackmail, extortion, direct attacks on civilians, and chemical weapons are all finding their way to the battlefield despite longstanding international prohibitions. This book offers a practical guide for policy makers, military officers, students, and others who ask such questions as: do guerillas deserve respect or long jail sentences? Are there grounds to torture guerillas for information or assassinate them on the battlefield? Is there room for nonlethal weapons to subdue militants and safeguard the lives of noncombatants? Who are noncombatants in asymmetric war? What is the status of civilians who shelter and aid guerillas? And, do guerillas have any right to attack civilians, particularly those who aid and shelter members of the stronger army? If one side can expand the scope of civilian vulnerability, then why can't the other?

• A practical guide to the legal and moral aspects of the major tactics of asymmetric war that include assassination, harsh interrogation, nonlethal chemical warfare, and attacks on civilian combatants • Well suited for students, military officers, and policy makers who confront the moral dilemmas of modern war • An innovative account of the emerging norms and conventions of asymmetric war that give new and expanded meaning to the principles of unnecessary suffering, proportionality, and noncombatant immunity


1. Torture, assassination and blackmail in modern, asymmetric conflict; 2. Friends, foes or brothers in arms? The puzzle of combatant equality; Part I. Dilemmas and Paradoxes of Combatancy: 3. Shooting to kill: the paradox of prohibited weapons; 4. Shooting to stun: the paradox of nonlethal warfare; 5. Murder, self-defense or execution? The dilemma of assassination; 6. Human dignity or human life: the dilemmas of torture; Part II. Dilemmas and Paradoxes of Noncombatancy: 7. Blackmailing the innocent: the dilemma of noncombatant immunity; 8. Killing the innocent: the dilemma of terror; 9. Risking our lives to save others: the paradox (and dilemma) of humanitarian intervention; Conclusion: 10. Torture, assassination and blackmail: new norms for asymmetric conflict?


'Gross is known for bringing a sharp intellect and a keen moral sense to the perplexing character of modern war. In his latest book, he considers the prominent role of civilians in contemporary conflicts - including wars initiated to protect the welfare of oppressed civilians and those in which enemies use noncombatants as shields or targets … Gross' wariness of dogmatism ensures that there are no easy answers; this is a book that will keep you thinking.' Foreign Affairs

'Gross writes fluently, with a wealth of realistic examples … He makes many interesting observations … and he shows sensitivity to the complexities of modern armed conflict …' The Journal of Ethics and International Affairs

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