282,817 Pages

Targeted Killings
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Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World
Author Claire Finkelstein
Jens David Ohlin
Andrew Altman
Original title Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Targeted killing
Genre Law
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date 30 April 2012 (2012-04-30)
Media type Hardcover
Pages 440
ISBN 978-0199646470
OCLC Number 757147167
Library of Congress Classification 2012933286

Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World is a non-fiction compilation book about targeted killing edited by Claire Finkelstein, Jens David Ohlin, and Andrew Altman. It was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. The book grew out of contributions by authors at a conference in April 2011 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Targeted Killings features a total of eighteen essays broken into five sections arranged by topical format. The work argues that after the September 11 attacks by Al Qaeda in 2001, the United States and other countries began to see the tactic of targeted killing differently. The practice of targeted killing had previously been accepted in situations of self-defense in the military setting; after September 11, 2001, it became used to kill noncombatants and those not directly involved in a particular armed force. The book begins with a discussion of targeted killing of noncombatants, followed by discussions of legalities, the rationale of self-defense, how targets should be chosen, and when and whether the ends can be used to justify the means. Several contributors defend targeting noncombatants, while Jeremy Waldron breaks down the morality associated with the tactic, and argues against its usage. Philosophy professor Jeff McMahan of Rutgers University points out the problematic nature of targeted killing and emphasises regulations for law enforcement in order to avoid abuse of process. Mississippi College School of Law professor Richard V. Meyer argues that any entity wishing to carry out targeted killing should first have to declare war on the targeted parties involved. Ave Maria School of Law associate professor Kevin H. Govern breaks down the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, and identifies this particular killing as justified and borne out of a rationale decision process. In the final portion of the book, Florida State University Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar Fernando Tesón argues that targeted killing is particularly justified against terrorists, because they use tactics specifically designed to kill civilians.

The book was well received in law reviews and by academics across multiple disciplines. Both Robin Geiß,[1] and Steven J. Barela praised its coverage of the legal, moral, political, and strategic aspects of targeted killings.[2] Steven R. Ratner welcomed its addition to the academic literature and Madeline E. Cohen wrote that it would be a useful research reference."[3][4] Abraham David Sofaer praised its useful treatment of the subject and its useful tables, and argued the book could have given more weight to the law enforcement model of how and when to use deadly force against individuals.[5]

Background[edit | edit source]

Oxford University Press previously published a book on targeted killing in 2008 by Nils Melzer, Targeted Killing in International Law;[6] which was a joint-winner of the 2009 Paul Guggenheim Prize in International Law given by the Geneva Graduate Institute.[7][8]

Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World developed as an outgrowth from a conference in April 2011 which focused on the subjects of both philosophy and law.[2] The conference took place at the Institute for Law and Philosophy of the University of Pennsylvania.[1] Experts in the fields of public policy, politics, military regulations, battlefield knowledge, law, ethics, and philosophy discussed current issues surrounding targeted killing in society.[2] The conference was titled "Using Targeted Killing to Fight the War on Terror: Philosophical, Moral, and Legal Challenges" and was organized by the University of Pennsylvania Law School.[9]

At the time of the book's initial publish date in print, Andrew Altman worked as Professor of Philosophy at Georgia State University and additionally served as Director of Research at the Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics; Claire Finkelstein was the Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and additionally served as co-director of the University of Pennsylvania Institute of Law and Philosophy; and Jens David Ohlin was employed as an Associate Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.[10] Ohlin was previously published in academic journals including the American Journal of International Law, the Columbia Law Review, and the Harvard International Law Journal.[11] He previously authored the 2008 book Defending Humanity: When Force is Justified and Why with George Fletcher, also published by Oxford University Press.[12]

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World was published in hardcover format by Oxford University Press on 30 April 2012.[13][14] A paperback format was published at the same time.[15] Additionally it was made available in an e-book format for the Amazon Kindle by Amazon.com on 1 March 2012.[16][17] In September 2012, the work was published online at Oxford Scholarship Online.[10]

Content summary[edit | edit source]

Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World begins with an introduction written by Andrew Altman. This is followed by a total of eighteen essays broken into five sections arranged by topical format. The work argues that after the September 11 attacks by Al Qaeda in 2001, the United States and other countries began to see the tactic of targeted killing differently. The practice of targeted killing had previously been accepted in situations of self-defense in the military setting; after September 11, 2001, it became used to kill noncombatants and those not directly involved in a particular armed force.[1][5]

A Predator drone; sometimes used in targeted killings

The first section of the book involves a discussion of targeted killing of noncombatants. In a piece titled "Rebutting the Civilian Presumption: Playing Whack-a-Mole Without a Mallet?", Colonel Mark Maxwell criticises the position of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with regards to targeted killing. Maxwell asserts that individuals may indeed serve a combat task even though they are not directly a member of a particular state force. He argues for extending the definition of combatant to include those who arm themselves and engage in combat roles. "Targeting Co-Belligerents" by professor Jens David Ohlin affirms the view by Maxwell and describes an analytical viewpoint called "linkage" in which he states terrorists who are armed and members of an organization can be killed. Ohlin interprets the guidelines of the ICRC to include reliance upon a military system of identification of combatants. "Can Just War Theory Justify Targeted Killing" by professor Daniel Statman puts forth an analysis of three thought processes used to discuss targeted killing rules, including "contractualist", "collectivist", and "individualist". Statman asserts that the tactic of targeted killing is a just form of combat in each of these analyses. The collectivist defense includes the ability of state actors to defend themselves. The contractualist defense involves a rationalisation that targeted killing is better than all-out war as an outcome. Individualist rationale relies upon self-defense of individual persons. New York University and Oxford University professor Jeremy Waldron breaks down the morality associated with the tactic, and argues against its usage. He points out that similar rationalisations could be used by the enemy against those perpetrating the targeted killings, observes there may be an inherent selection bias of targets, and warns of a slippery slope when defending an actor which uses the methodology.[1][5]

In the second portion of the book, a group of articles discuss which sets of laws should be used to regulate targeted killing. Philosophy professor Jeff McMahan of Rutgers University poses the query, "Targeted Killing: Murder, Combat or Law Enforcement?". He argues that elimintaing enemies for purposes of self-defense is justified. McMahan points out the problematic nature of targeted killing and emphasises regulations for law enforcement in order to avoid abuse of process. University of Pennsylvania law and philosophy professor Claire Finkelstein writes in "Targeted Killing as Preemptive Action", that it is difficult to rationalise targeted killing outside of the realm of typical combat between state actors. Finkelstein characterises people as noncombatants unless they are a member of a group which includes identification through standardised attire and carry out criminal behavior patterns. Mississippi College School of Law professor Richard V. Meyer writes that current regulations and standards for targeted killing are inadequate. He argues that any entity wishing to carry out targeted killing should first have to declare war on the targeted parties involved.[1][5]

The book's third group of essays involves an analysis of the rationale of self-defense as a justification for targeted killing. Washburn University School of Law professor Craig Martin writes in "Going Medieval: Targeted Killing, Self-Defense and the Jus ad Bellum Regime" that self-defense is not an appropriate rationale for targeted killing because such a justification is restricted to conflicts between state actors. University of Tulsa School of Law professor Russell Christopher asserts in "Imminence in Justified Targeted Killing" that self-defense should be ruled out as a suitable position in several examples of potential conflict. He picks apart arguments by governments including Britain and the United States that self-defense can be used as a rationalisation of action against imminent danger. Western Washington University emeritus philosophy professor Phillip Montague argues in an essay titled "Defending Defensive Targeted Killings" that usage of this tactic against combatants can be seen as defensible and justified acts against terrorism or those who assist terrorist organizations.[1][5]

The fourth portion of the book is devoted to a discussion of how to make specific choices in targeted killing situations prior to carrying out actions against individuals by a state actor. University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor Amos N. Guiora discusses "The Importance of Criteria-Based Reasoning in Targeted Killing Decisions", and concludes lawyers in consultation with decision algorithms must make decisions on targets as opposed to combatant commanders in the field. Pepperdine University School of Law professor Gregory S. McNeal picks apart the arguments of those against targeted killing in his essay, "Are Targeted Killings Unlawful? A Case Study in Empirical Claims Without Empirical Evidence". He differentiates between decision processes of the United States military and the Central Intelligence Agency, emphasising the U.S. military tactic of attempting to avoid collateral damage. Ave Maria School of Law associate professor Kevin H. Govern breaks down the elimination of Osama Bin Laden in his piece, "Operation Neptune Spear: Was Killing Bin Laden a Legitimate Military Objective?". He identifies this particular killing as justified and borne out of a rationale decision process. American University Washington College of Law professor Kenneth Anderson distinguishes between the implemendtation of military drones from targeted killing, in his article, "Efficiency in Bello and ad Bellum: Making the Use of Force Too Easy?". He argues that use of targeted killing as a way to respond to threats earlier in order to prevent potential terrorist attacks is a justified tactic.[1][5]

The final portion of the book deals with an analysis of consequentialism within the scope of normative ethics and deontological ethics. Florida State University Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar Fernando Tesón argues in his essay "Targeted Killing in War and Peace: A Philosophical Analysis" that targeted killing is particularly justified against terrorists because they use tactics specifically designed to kill civilians. University of Illinois law and philosophy professor Michael Moore asserts in "Targeted Killings and the Morality of Hard Choices" that targeted killing can be seen as justified through both deontological and consequentialist models. University of Pennsylvania School of Law professor Leo Katz writes in "Targeted Killing and the Strategic Use of Self-Defense" that there is a danger of a state government artificially generating instances in which it asserts it must use targeted killing in self-defense. He warns against situations where governments find it easier to kill terrorists instead of putting them through due process of law. Katz concludes that current regulations support targeted killing because existing law does not consider his argumentation and justifies tactical elimination of terrorists.[1][5]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World was reviewed in the European Journal of International Law by University of Potsdam international and European law professor Robin Geiß, along with books Targeted Killings and International Law by Roland Otto and The Law of Targeting by William H. Boothby.[1] The reviewer wrote, "Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World is a thought-provoking contribution that takes a refreshingly broad and timely approach in addressing the legal, ethical, and strategic-political dimension of the contemporary debate over targeted killings."[1] Geiß concluded, "There is some overlap between the chapters, their relationship is not always evident, and as much as the interdisciplinary approach of this volume is to be appreciated, assembling and interlinking the different legal, ethical, and political findings in an overarching, concluding chapter would have been particularly useful. Nevertheless, the book reflects the entire spectrum of diverging views on the matter, and adds an important impetus to move the current debate forward."[1]

Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at Leonard Lief Library, Lehman College, City University of New York, Madeline E. Cohen, wrote in an article for the International Journal of Legal Information: "Within the context of moral and legal principles, and military strategy, the subject of targeted killings is analyzed in great detail. These essays are interdisciplinary in their approach, and give various sides of arguments on this rich subject."[4] She concluded: "An excellent introduction by Andrew Altman provides an overview of 'Our Asymmetric World' and models used to combat terrorism. References, tables of cases and legal instruments are included making this an excellent reference for further research."[4]

Abraham David Sofaer reviewed the book for the Texas Law Review.[5] Sofaer wrote, "It is a beautiful book: large, with print size that is easy on the eyes, and with sufficient space between lines of text to make the complex material at least visually digestible. It has useful tables of cases, instruments, legislation, and abbreviations, as well as an index."[5] He commented, "...it should be clear that a reader seeking a single, nonredundant and objective account of targeted killing should find another book. On the other hand, this collection of essays provides several original and useful treatments of various aspects of the subject."[5] Sofaer argued that the book could have given more weight to the law enforcement model of how and when to use deadly force against individuals.[5]

It received a review from University of Geneva postdoctoral research fellow in the faculty of law, Steven J. Barela, in the Journal of International Criminal Justice.[2] Barela described the book as, "A constructive work with a wide purview onto one of the most pressing and difficult policy questions of our time."[2] He noted, "this volume provides a valuable entry point for investigating this kaleidoscope of legal and moral issues."[2] Steven R. Ratner of the University of Michigan Law School reviewed the book for the American Journal of International Law.[3] Ratner observed, "In light of the complexity of the legal and moral issues, Targeted Killings is a welcome addition to the academic literature. It aims to combine in one volume perspectives from legal experts, moral philosophers, and military planners."[3] University of Reading law lecturer Robert P. Barnidge, Jr. wrote in the Boston University International Law Journal, "Targeted Killings also provides some clarity as to the threshold between armed conflict and situations falling short of armed conflict."[18] He concluded, "Targeted Killings' main contribution to the discussion lies in its focus on the willing use of violence on a significant scale by an organized group."[18]

See also[edit | edit source]

Targeted killing

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Geiß, Robin (May 2013). "Claire Finkelstein, Jens David Ohlin, and Andrew Altman (eds). Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World. Roland Otto. Targeted Killings and International Law. William H. Boothby. The Law of Targeting.". pp. 722–729. ISSN 0938-5428. http://ejil.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/2/722.full.pdf. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Barela, Steven J. (March 2013). "Claire Finkelstein, Jens David Ohlin and Andrew Altman (eds), Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World.". pp. 277–282. ISSN 1478-1387. http://jicj.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/1/277.extract. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ratner, Steven R. (January 2013). "Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World.". pp. 274–278. ISSN 0002-9300. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Cohen, Madeline E. (Winter 2012). "International Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict: A Critical Annotated Bibliography for Collection Development". International Association of Law Libraries. p. 493. 
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Sofaer, Abraham David (March 2013). "Book Review: Targeted Killings from Many Perspectives". Texas Law Review Association. pp. 925–938. ISSN 0040-4411. 
  6. Abresch, William (2009). "Targeted Killing in International Law". Great Britain. pp. 449–453. Digital object identifier:10.1093/ejil/chp012. ISSN 0938-5428. http://ejil.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/2/449.full. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  7. Oxford University Press (2010). "OUP: Melzer: Targeted Killing in International Law". OUP Catalogue. ukcatalogue.oup.com. http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199533169.do. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  8. Oxford University Press, USA (2010). "Winner of the 2009 Paul Guggenheim Prize (Geneva Graduate Institute)". OUP USA Home. www.oup.com. http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Law/?view=usa&ci=9780199577903. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  9. Chiesa, Luis E.; Alexander K.A. Greenawalt (Summer 2012). "Beyond War: Bin Laden, Escobar, and the Justification of Targeted Killing". Washington & Lee University School of Law. p. 1371. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Finkelstein, Claire; Jens David Ohlin, Andrew Altman (September 2012). "Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World". www.oxfordscholarship.com. Digital object identifier:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646470.001.0001. ISBN 9780199646470. http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646470.001.0001/acprof-9780199646470?rskey=A2dzft&result=1&q=targeted%20killings. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  11. Post, Paul (25 March 2012). "Guest lecturer Jens Ohlin questions legality of modern warfare, War on Terror". The Saratogian. 
  12. Staff writer (19 March 2012). "Cornell University law professor and former Saratogian reporter Jens Ohlin to deliver lecture at Skidmore College on targeted killings". The Saratogian. 
  13. Finkelstein, Claire; Jens David Ohlin, Andrew Altman (30 April 2012). Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199646470. 
  14. OCLC (2012). "Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World". WorldCat. www.worldcat.org. OCLC 757147167. http://www.worldcat.org/title/targeted-killings-law-and-morality-in-an-asymmetrical-world/oclc/757147167. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  15. Finkelstein, Claire; Jens David Ohlin, Andrew Altman (30 April 2012). Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199646487. 
  16. Finkelstein, Claire; Jens David Ohlin, Andrew Altman (1 March 2012). Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World. OUP Oxford; Amazon Digital Services, Inc.. ASIN B008UT9DQA. 
  17. OCLC (2012). "Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World". WorldCat. www.worldcat.org. OCLC 806038986. http://www.worldcat.org/title/targeted-killings-law-and-morality-in-an-asymmetrical-world/oclc/806038986. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Barnidge, Jr., Robert P. (Summer 2012). "A qualified defense of American drone attacks in Northwest Pakistan under international humanitarian law". Trustees of Boston University. p. 409. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Boothby, William H. (2012). The Law of Targeting. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199696611. 
  • Chiesa, Luis E.; Alexander K.A. Greenawalt (Summer 2012). "Beyond War: Bin Laden, Escobar, and the Justification of Targeted Killing". Washington & Lee University School of Law. p. 1371. 
  • Melzer, Nils (2006). "Targeted Killing or Less Harmful Means? – Israel's High Court Judgment on Targeted Killing and the Restrictive Function of Military Necessity". pp. 87–113. Digital object identifier:10.1017/S1389135906000870. 
  • Melzer, Nils (2007). Targeted Killing Under the International Normative Paradigms of Law Enforcement and Hostilities. Zurich: Schulthess Juristische Medien AG. 
  • Melzer, Nils (29 May 2008). Targeted Killing in International Law. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-953316-9. 
  • Melzer, Nils (Spring 2010). "Forum: Direct Participation in Hostilities: Perspectives on the ICRC Interpretive Guidance: Keeping the Balance Between Military Necessity and Humanity: A Response to Four Critiques of the ICRC's Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities". New York University. p. 831. 
  • Ohlin, Jens David (April 2013). "The Duty to Capture". Minnesota Law Review Foundation. p. 1268. 
  • Otto, Roland (2012). Targeted Killings and International Law. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-24858-0. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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