The Ethical War Blog

Expert discussion of the ethics of war, for all.

Is There an Islamic State?

By Adam Hosein

Earlier this year, Barrack Obama began using the term ‘violent extremists’ in reference to the United States’ central enemies in Iraq and Syria, avoiding all use of the term ‘Islamic extremists’. More recently, David Cameron criticized the BBC for using the term ‘Islamic State’, rather than referring to the group as ‘so-called Islamic State’, ‘ISIL’ or, still better in his opinion, ‘Daesh’. In sum, both are insistent that their enemy is not Islamic (and nor does it form, Cameron added, a state). The French government has already begun using only the term ‘Daesh’ with Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, adding that he personally would only use the term ‘Daesh cut-throats’.

Continue Reading ›

Hamas, Gaza, and the Terrorist’s Code of Ethics

By Yitzhak Benbaji and Alexander Yakobsen

Let’s set aside the question of whether Hamas’ decision to fight Israel this summer was legitimate, and ask a separate question: Did Hamas have the option of using legitimate combat methods?

Continue Reading ›

Should we send weapons or troops? The ethics of supplying arms vs. military intervention

By James Pattison

Western states are less likely to wage major wars in the future. This is for (at least) four reasons. First, despite several ongoing conflicts, the world is generally becoming more peaceful. There are fewer mass atrocities and conflicts to which to wage war in response. Second, the US and UK’s misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have severely diminished any public appetite for large-scale war or humanitarian intervention. The significant public opposition to the mooted intervention in Syria indicates that any Western leader is likely to have to go against public opinion.

Continue Reading ›

Cultural Property Under the Law of Armed Conflict

By Adil Ahmad Haque

The atrocities committed by Daesh (the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”) against the people of Iraq and Syria extend beyond murder, mutilation, and enslavement to the destruction of cultural property. It should surprise no one that such deliberate destruction of cultural property is prohibited by international law.

Continue Reading ›

Published 1st June 2015

Adil Haque

Professor of Law and Judge Jon O. Newman Scholar at Rutgers Law School. He is currently writing a book for OUP on law and morality in armed conflict.

In Defense of Objects

By Jonathan Peterson

In March 2015 the Islamic State reportedly looted and bulldozed the ruins of the ancient cities of Nimrud and Hatra in Iraq. These attacks on ancient cultural sites appear to be part of an emerging pattern of plunder and destruction which includes the destruction of a mosque built on the site of the supposed tomb of the prophet, Jonah in Mosul in July 2014 and the smashing of ancient Assyrian statues in the museum in Mosul in February. With the fall of Palmyra to the Islamic State in Syria on May 21, 2015 further plunder and destruction of important cultural sites and objects may well be expected.

Continue Reading ›

Killing and Cartoons

By David Rodin

“I don’t believe that a cartoon is worth a single life. The problem is that there are quite a few people who believe otherwise and then we are confronted with this dilemma: what do we do?”

Continue Reading ›

Published 25th May 2015

David Rodin

Professor of Political Science at the European University Institute and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for the Ethics and Law of Armed Conflict. Affiliated Researcher at the Stockholm Centre