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Book Review: The Ethics of Armed Conflict: A Cosmopolitan Just War Theory by John W. Lango

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This article was originally published by Europp (European Politics and Policy), a blog of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Ethics of Armed Conflict: A Cosmopolitan Just War Theory. John W. Lango. Edinburgh University Press. January 2014.

In recent years, just war theory has witnessed a remarkable intellectual revival. Predominantly a phenomenon in English-speaking philosophical circles, contemporary just war theory has tackled many pressing issues relating to the use of armed force with increasing philosophical sophistication, drawing upon insights from other philosophical subfields, such as political theory, legal theory, and bioethics. John W. Lango’s latest book is best viewed against this background.

Mirroring recent debates on global justice in political theory, contemporary just war theory can be roughly divided into non-cosmopolitan and cosmopolitan approaches.

In a nutshell, the former approach attaches moral significance to communal and state boundaries, whereas the latter, upholding an ideal of world citizenship, deems borders morally irrelevant. As its title suggests, Lango’s book is committed to the second perspective. » More

Will the Dragon Follow the Bear?

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published by Atlantic-community.org on 26 May 2014

By avoiding blatant aggression, Putin’s ostensibly deniable tactics use Europe’s rules-based interconnected international system against it, even as he circumvents Russia’s own treaty commitments to Ukraine. But perhaps the longer term threat is not that a declining Russia’s actions will go unpunished, but that as with Germany, Italy and Japan in the 1930s, states who are also dissatisfied with their neighborhood’s geopolitical status quo will copy the Kremlin’s lead.

The non-invasion invasion of Ukrainian territory by little green men, or “self-defense groups” as President Putin calls them, has been a masterful demonstration of Russian asymmetric warfare, electronic disinformation and lawfare techniques. Alarm is now heard that if Russian attempts to undermine Ukrainian territorial integrity are successful it will feed Moscow’s appetite for more. But while the attention of the world is riveted on the Kremlin, what about other regional powers? If a great power conflict can be avoided (as in Ukraine so far), would another state emulate Russia’s behavior in the future? » More

The Obama Doctrine

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This article was originally published by the Council on Foreign Relations on 29 May 2014

President Obama’s May 28 speech at West Point was long overdue. Chatter about America’s decline, the Pentagon’s budget crunch, deteriorating crises in Syria and Ukraine, and confusion over Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative—the Asia Rebalance—has left many questioning America’s ability or willingness to engage, much less lead, in the world.

Obama strongly refuted any notions of American decline, retrenchment, or timidity in the world, stating: “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world;” “American isolationism is not an option;” and “ America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t no one else will.” These are reassuring statements for allies and partners, who will now be watching for actions to match the words. » More

Reform First

One Egyptian Pound, courtesy of Winter Sorbeck/Wikimedia

This article was originally published 31 May 2014 by Peacefare.net.

Steven Cook, who knows lots about Egypt, offers an insightful analysis of its impending financial and economic problems. In a word, Egypt could go broke and the state could disintegrate:

“Egypt’s economy remains shaky and the threat of a solvency crisis lingers. Indeed, the continuation of violence, political protests, and general political uncertainty—even after planned presidential and parliamentary elections—along with a hodgepodge of incoherent economic policies, all portend continuing economic decline. This in turn could create a debilitating feedback loop of more political instability, violence, and economic deterioration, thus increasing the chances of an economic calamity and yet again more political turmoil, including mass demonstrations, harsher crackdowns, leadership struggles, and possibly the disintegration of state power.”

Only Gulf generosity has kept Egypt’s foreign currency reserves above the minimum required, tourism is in a tailspin, debt is close to 100% of GDP and subsidies (especially for fuel) burden the state’s budget. There are many ways in which Egypt could be sent into default. I recommend you read Steven’s trenchant account. » More

End of ISAF, End of NATO?

Medical evacuation training at FOB Farah, Afghanistan.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 29 May 2014. War on the Rocks Editor’s Note: This op-ed is based on the author’s article entitled, “Maintaining transatlantic strategic, operational and tactical interoperability in an era of austerity,” International Affairs 90: 3 (2014) 583–600, May 2014.

It is no accident that forces from NATO member states can actually operate alongside or embedded with one another. Interoperability is, in large part, the product of a war, one that is soon ending: the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s campaign in Afghanistan.  Later this year, though, NATO’s extensive involvement in operations in Afghanistan will come to an end, and with it, the alliance’s workshop for building and maintaining an unprecedented level of interoperability.

The end of NATO’s involvement in this war is, of course, not something to be mourned. Between the loss of blood and treasure over the last decade – including nearly 3,500 coalition deaths – and the defense austerity most allies are navigating, the expiration of the ISAF mandate is something to be thankful for. However, it will mean that NATO, and specifically the ground forces of alliance member states, will face greater difficulty in maintaining this unprecedented level of operational and tactical interoperability. » More

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