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The War Lawyers: the United States, Israel and Juridical Warfare

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Craig JonesORCiD


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The War Lawyers examines the laws of war as applied by military lawyers to aerial targeting operations carried out by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Israel military in Gaza. Drawing on interviews with military lawyers and others, this book explains why some lawyers became integrated in the chain of command whereby military targets are identified and attacked, whether by manned aircraft, drones and/or ground forces, and with what results. The analysis shows how a series of changes in technologies and Rules of Engagement have given rise to a mode of targeting that requires an extensive apparatus of legal input and adjudication. In examining the effects of this process, the book argues that when lawyers render legal advice on targeting, they effectively put the indeterminacy of law in the service of producing and extending military violence, as well as constraining it. This is an iterative and ongoing lawmaking enterprise carried out in concert with the commanders whom lawyers advise. The provision of legal answers and options takes place in highly routinized fashion under the overarching imperatives of mission success, and crucially, under pressures of time and emergent events in the battlespace. Military lawyers respond to intelligence data from widely distributed actors – but also inevitable gaps, errors and misinterpretations in such data. The mutual influence of US and Israeli targeting policies is also examined. The War Lawyers shows just how important law and military lawyers have become in the conduct of contemporary warfare, and how it is understood.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones C

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Edition: 1

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 400

Print publication date: 26/11/2020

Acceptance date: 16/03/2020

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Place Published: Oxford and New York

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780198842927