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International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security: The Strategic Deployment of Lawyers in the Israeli Military
Delegitimation has become the new battleground for Israel and the critics of Israeli military operations. But the Israeli experience reveals a more general engagement where all states act strategically to build legitimacy for their policies and all resist attempts at delegitimation. To understand these processes it is necessary to see how politicized...
Delegitimation has become the new battleground for Israel and the critics of Israeli military operations. But the Israeli experience reveals a more general engagement where all states act strategically to build legitimacy for their policies and all resist attempts at delegitimation. To understand these processes it is necessary to see how politicized moral and legal judgments shape both the use of force by states and our judgments about the means and the outcomes. This is a book about legitimacy, military lawyers and security. More particularly, it is about how the legitimacy of Israel’s asymmetric military operations cannot be detached from the politics of law and ethics. Sometimes it is enough that states respect the laws of armed conflict, but at other times they may be held to a higher standard. This does not happen in a vacuum. Rather it is the product of political engagement in the murky politics of international legitimacy where standards are negotiable and some states get a harder time than others. There is a strong theoretical analysis underpinning a discussion that constantly returns to the practical problems of modern armed conflict where combatants hide among civilians and states complain about the unrealistic expectations of human rights NGOs. Here, the law is unclear and there are choices to be made. The book presents new research into the involvement of Israeli military lawyers in operational targeting decision making that has life and death consequences. The case studies concern targeted killing during the Second Intifada, Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War, the 2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and, finally, the 2010 Israeli maritime interception of the ‘Turkish Flotilla’ to Gaza. The investigation identifies a struggle between the proponents of human rights in war and those who promote the rights of states to deploy military force for the security of their citizens. But not all parties to a military conflict are held to the same standards. In fact, the analysis maps a complex political deployment of law and ethics in the strategic calculation of legitimacy costs and the diplomatic processes whereby they are contested, with policy implications for those in charge of the design and execution of military operations.
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