Exploiting Legal Thresholds, Fault-Lines and Gaps in the Context of Remote Warfare
Research Handbook on Remote Warfare, edited by Jens David Ohlin (Edward Elgar Press, Forthcoming)
17 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Aug 2018
Date Written: October 5, 2016
Conflicts increasingly involve action at a distance as opposed to traditional battlefield engagements. Development of new weapons, modern communication and growing economic interdependence between States push national decision-makers to adopt asymmetrical strategies, overt as well as covert. States may adopt such strategies to minimize the exposure to risk of their own forces while their opponents can be easily attacked and also for the purpose of avoiding attribution and retribution. Since international law may be used as a tool for legitimizing state policies, legal thresholds, fault-lines and gaps will be used by States to portray their own actions as legal or at least belonging to a grey area but never illegal.
This study examines legal thresholds, fault-lines and gaps which gives states the opportunity to adopt asymmetrical strategies which gives them leverage against their opponents, avoid attribution and retribution. For the purpose of this study, remote warfare is understood to include computer network attacks, psychological operations, use of irregular and/or non-state groups, use of ‘peace keeping’ and/or pre-stationed forces, and expulsion of populations. The analysis is conducted in relation to recent and ongoing situations and conflicts such as Syria and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
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