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Saving Soldiers or Civilians?
Casualty-Aversion versus Civilian Protection in Asymmetric Conflicts

  • Date Published: May 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108427647


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About the Authors
  • Concerns for the lives of soldiers and innocent civilians have come to underpin Western, and particularly American, warfare. Yet this new mode of conflict faces a dilemma: these two norms have opened new areas of vulnerability that have been systematically exploited by non-state adversaries. This strategic behaviour creates a trade-off, forcing decision-makers to have to choose between saving soldiers and civilians in target states. Sebastian Kaempf examines the origin and nature of this dilemma, and in a detailed analysis of the US conflicts in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, investigates the ways the US has responded, assessing the legal, moral, and strategic consequences. Scholars and students of military and strategic studies, international relations and peace and conflict studies will be interested to read Kaempf's analysis of whether the US or its adversaries have succeeded in responding to this central dilemma of contemporary warfare.

    • Presents an investigation of the relationship between ethics and the laws of war, with contemporary relevance
    • Outlines the norms of casualty-aversion and civilian protection, and examines the tension that exists between the two
    • Provides a detailed analysis of the particular dynamics of asymmetric conflicts between the US and non-state adversaries in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A key normative tension lies at the heart of the contemporary American way of war, caused by the political imperative to avoid own force casualties and the legal requirement to avoid killing civilians. As Kaempf shows, this has created significant problems for US military operations – problems that, however irresolvable, need to be acknowledged. This excellent book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the conduct of modern warfare.' Theo Farrell, Executive Dean of Law, Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong, Australia

    'This is a sophisticated study of the tension between two guiding norms of US military strategy: to limit casualties among US armed forces and to protect civilians from disproportionate harm. Developing insights of theorists ranging from Clausewitz to Walzer, the author reveals how asymmetric conflicts bring this tension to the fore, when weaker adversaries deliberately seek to provoke the US side to violate one or both of the norms. Well-chosen case studies exhibit an impressive mix of empirical, normative, and legal analysis.' Matthew Evangelista, Cornell University, New York

    'Kaempf makes it easy for the reader to navigate among the wealth of empirical information and writings from political science, international law, political theory, and history.' Cornelius Friesendorf, Journal of Strategic Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108427647
    • length: 302 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 155 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. US warfare and civilian protection
    2. US warfare and casualty-aversion
    3. The interactive dynamics of asymmetric conflicts
    4. Case study I: the US intervention in Somalia
    5. Case study II: the US war in Afghanistan
    6. Case study III: the US war in Iraq

  • Author

    Sebastian Kaempf, University of Queensland
    Sebastian Kaempf is Senior Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies at the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. His research interests are in international security, peace and conflict studies, the ethics and the laws of war, and the impact of digital new media technology on contemporary security. He has won an Australian national award for teaching excellence (AAUT) and is the convener of the massive open online course (MOOC) 'MediaWarX'.

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