Modern war is law pursued by other means. Once a bit player in
military conflict, law now shapes the institutional, logistical,
and physical landscape of war. At the same time, law has become a
political and ethical vocabulary for marking legitimate power and
justifiable death. As a result, the battlespace is as legally
regulated as the rest of modern life. In "Of War and Law," David
Kennedy examines this important development, retelling the history
of modern war and statecraft as a tale of the changing role of law
and the dramatic growth of law's power. Not only a restraint and an
ethical yardstick, law can also be a weapon--a strategic partner, a
force multiplier, and an excuse for terrifying violence.
Kennedy focuses on what can go wrong when humanitarian and
military planners speak the same legal language--wrong for
humanitarianism, and wrong for warfare. He argues that law has
beaten ploughshares into swords while encouraging the
bureaucratization of strategy and leadership. A culture of rules
has eroded the experience of personal decision-making and
responsibility among soldiers and statesmen alike. Kennedy urges
those inside and outside the military who wish to reduce the
ferocity of battle to understand the new roles--and the limits--of
law. Only then will we be able to revitalize our responsibility for
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