Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Jus in Bello

Both Israel and Hamas are Wrong to Claim Self-Defense

I was listening to an interview on the radio earlier today with a spokesman for Hamas. The interviewer asked the spokesman why Hamas was continuing to fire rockets despite their ineffectiveness against Israel (since the start of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has only killed 2 Israelis). He replied that the Palestinians had a right to self-defense. In my most recent post about this conflict, I’ve seen similar arguments being made by Israeli sympathizers–“no coutry would put up with” the rocket fire Israel endures, and Israel has a right to self-defense. These arguments are deeply flawed because they fatally misconceptualize what self-defense is.

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Why Do States Kill Civilians?

In recent days, there’s been much talk of how the Syrian government is killing civilians in Syria. Most people have been inclined to view this as manifest evidence that the Syrian government is run by malevolent and/or insane individuals. I think this response is too quick and too dismissive. Throughout history, states have often killed civilians. The individuals who give the orders that civilians be killed are not all uniformly evil or crazy. There is some purpose that states seek to achieve by targeting civilians, and today I wish to shed some light on what that purpose is.

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The Irrelevance of Chemical Weapons

Well, it’s been coming for a while now–Barack Obama has decided to arm the Syrian rebels. The justification? The administration believes that somewhere between 100 and 200 people in Syria have been killed with chemical weapons, specifically, nerve agents, even more specifically, sarin. It is too often taken for granted that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government provides a good reason for the United States to intervene in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the rebels. The assumption must be questioned–does the use of chemical weapons make it in the interest of the United States to intervene where before it was not in the US interest to do so?

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