Retired Brigadier General Kenneth Watkin’s new book, Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict, helps address some of the issues with the increasingly blurred line between international humanitarian law and human rights law. Professor Mitt Regan’s review addresses the trends that Watkin regards as posing novel challenges for states accustomed to traditional concepts of the use of force and discusses Watkin’s concepts that are especially relevant to the question of how much the traditional categories of law enforcement guided by human rights principles and armed conflict governed by international humanitarian law should continue to frame thinking about the use of force. Regan also critiques Watkin’s use of the binary framework of law enforcement and armed conflict to guide analysis.
Decision researchers describe a “prominence effect” that leads decision makers to choose an option with more defensible attributes when quantitative assessment of those options is difficult. Prominence is hypothesized as a factor in US policy decisions not to use military force to prevent or stop humanitarian crises. Prominence is also regarded as a behavioral failure affecting both the general public and public officials that can be mitigated to improve welfare outcomes in transnational security decisions. This article—by David G. Delaney and Paul Slovic—considers those hypotheses as they relate to attorneys advising the US president and other senior public officials addressing transnational security issues. It proposes a combination of institutional, organizational, and individual steps to mitigate prominence and related behavioral failures.
Eugene Fidell’s recently published book Military Justice: A Very Short Introduction fills an existing gap in academic military justice literature by providing readers with a condensed book focused solely on military justice. Fidell leverages his years of experience as both a practitioner and a scholar to bring us this “pint sized” book that covers topics ranging from the basics of military command to detention and military justice reform. Nevitt’s review of this “quick and easy military justice primer” makes it clear that readers from the newest law student to the most experience JAG could benefit from reading Fidell’s work.
The business that we are all somehow associated with—of contemplating war, preparing for war, deterring war, initiating war, prosecuting war, providing relief in war, ending war, recovering from war—is consequential. Getting as right as possible the intricate dance of decisions that define the initiation, conduct, and conclusion of warfare is incredibly important for societies. It also has varying degrees of impact on individuals, from merely defining the outlines of individual service members’ daily lives to shattering or ending the mental and physical existence of combatants and innocents.
In this article, Anthony Pfaff discusses what ethical norms should govern proxy war and the relationships that sustain them; the way the existence of a benefactor-proxy relationship complicates the application of traditional jus ad bellum criteria; and the additional moral problems caused by the way proxy wars shift risk away from benefactors. He concludes by suggesting a set of norms that should guide proxy relationships.