In The Crossfires Or In The Crosshairs Kahl

In the Crossfire or the Crosshairs? Norms, Civilian Casualties, and U.S. Conduct in Iraq

- US military has done a better job of respecting noncombatant immunity in Iraq than is commonly thought. Compliance has improved over time as the military has adjusted its behaviour in response to real and perceived violations of the norm.
- Article considers:
o The norm of noncombatant immunity
o Evaluation of the degree of US military compliance with the norm in Iraq during major combt and SO/COIN
o Organizational culture best explains U.S. military conduct in Iraq
o Policy recommendations

Norm of Noncombatant immunity
- Norm of noncombatant immunity is rooted in notion of “just war”
- Law of war rests on four principles
o 1. Military necessity
o 2. Humanity
o 3. Distinction
o 4. proportionality
- norm compliance is determined by the extent to which actors try to bring behaviour into line with obligations
- measure compliance using:
o 1. Levels of civilian casualties
o 2. Conduct during military operations
o 3. Responses to noncompliance
- number of civilian deaths range from 70,000 – 600,000
- contrast b/w current Iraq war and previous US COIN is 11-7 x lower than in the Philipines
- Military Conduct: no-strike lists an collateral damage estimates; weaponeering and mitigation (process of selecting the type and quantity of weapon necessary to produce a desired effect); reactions to instance of noncompliance; war crimes (violations are likely in prolonged coin campaigns due to frustration of fighting unseen eney and estrangement from population)

- Costly compliance
o Available evidence suggests US compliance with norms of non-combatant immunity has been relatively high and increased over time
o Historically, the temptation to engage in purposeful civilian victimization increases as the costs of war mount and the prospects for victory decline, especially in COIN campaigns.

Organizational Culture and the “American Way of War”
- military culture is institutionalized, routinized, and reproduced in several ways, including education and training,c areer incentives, doctrine and war plans, budgetary priorities, procurement programs, and even force structure.
- US compliance with norm of noncombatant immunity is a result of integration of the norm into the military’s broader organizational cutulre, including its conceptualizations of core values and interests as well as particular understands of effective ways to advance interests.
- Emergence of Lieberian subculture of military war: recognized the importance of distinguishing “unarmed” or “inoffesnvie” civilians
- Dominant military perspective of Jominan warfare = conquest and total annihalation

Explaining Compliance
- annihalation-restraing paradox has created tensions between the mission of destruction and mission of protection

1. US compliance with the norm of noncombatant immunity in Iraq is higher than critics of the war often asswert
2. Despite some remaining problems, compliance has increased over time as US military responds to instances o fnoncompliance by modiftying tactics, ROE, training, and doctrine
3. The observed level fo compliance is best explained by the military’s organizational cuture

- Observed through the narrow lens of the Law of War, the US military ahs gone to commendable lengths to comply with noncombatant immunity in Iraq

- anonymous battlefield ethics surveys
- regular mental health questionnaire
- civilian casualties response team
- committing to track and reporting all wartime civilian casualties

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License