Ethics & International Affairs Volume 34.2 (Summer 2020)

Jul 9, 2020

The editors of Ethics & International Affairs are pleased to present the Summer 2020 issue of the journal!

The highlight of this issue is a roundtable organized by Daniel R. Brunstetter on limited strikes and the associated ethical, legal, and strategic concerns. The collection contains contributions from Daniel R. Brunstetter, Wendy Pearlman, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, Danielle L. Lupton, and Eric A. Heinze and Rhiannon Neilsen. Additionally, the issue includes essays by Kenneth Reinert on a "basic goods approach" to development policy and Amitav Acharya on the myth of the "civilization state." It also contains a review essay by Tanisha M. Fazal on the criminalization of aggression, and book reviews by Matt McDonald and Byron Williston.



From Sustainable Development Goals to Basic Development Goals
Kenneth Reinert
The Sustainable Development Goals have attracted both defenders and critics. Composed of 17 goals and 169 targets, the overly broad scope of the SDGs raises the question of whether there are priorities that need to be set within them. This essay considers the SDGs from the perspective of a "basic goods approach" to development policy, which takes a needs-based and basic-subsistence-rights view on policy priorities. It proposes a set of seven "basic development goals" and ten associated targets.

The Myth of the "Civilization State" Rising Powers and the Cultural Challenge to World Order
Amitav Acharya
"Civilization" is back at the forefront of global policy debates. The leaders of rising powers such as China, India, Turkey, and Russia have stressed their civilizational identity in framing their domestic and foreign policy platforms. Some analysts argue that the 21st century might belong to the civilization state, just as the past few centuries were dominated by the nation-state. This essay explores whether the rise of the civilization state is inevitable and its impact on the liberal international order.


Introduction: The Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications of Limited Strikes [Open Access]
Daniel R. Brunstetter

The recent resurgence of limited strikes as a foreign policy tool points to the need to carefully consider the associated ethical, legal, and strategic concerns. The goal of this roundtable is to identify many of these concerns and, in the process, provide insights into the perils and potential benefits of this type of force.

Wading Knee-Deep into the Rubicon: Escalation and the Morality of Limited Strikes
Daniel R. Brunstetter
Limited strikes are arguably different from war insofar as they are more circumscribed, less destructive, and cost less in blood and treasure to employ. However, what they can achieve is also considerably more circumscribed than what is set out by the goals of war. How do we morally evaluate limited strikes? This essay argues that we need to turn to the ethics of limited of force, or jus ad vim, to do so.

Limited Force and the Return of Reprisals in the Law of Armed Conflict
Eric A. Heinze and Rhiannon Neilsen

Armed reprisals are the limited use of military force in response to unlawful actions perpetrated against states. While reprisals are broadly believed to have been outlawed by the UN Charter, states continue to routinely undertake such self-help measures. This essay examines the doctrine of armed reprisals in light of recent instances of states using force "short of war" in this manner.

Syrian Views on Obama's Red Line: The Ethical Case for Strikes against Assad
Wendy Pearlman
Much ink has been spilled on the pros and cons of United States President Barack Obama's decision not to strike the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after that regime launched a deadly chemical weapons attack in 2013. Often missing from those debates, however, are the perspectives of Syrians themselves. While not all Syrians oppose Assad, and not all opponents endorsed intervention, many Syrian oppositionists resolutely called for Obama to uphold his "red line" militarily. This essay analyzes diverse expressions of such opinion.

A Matter of Balance: A French Perspective on Limited Strikes
Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer
What are the philosophical arguments justifying limited strikes? This essay adopts a French perspective both because France is, along with the United States and the United Kingdom, one of the states that launched such limited strikes in recent years, and because it developed a limited warfare ethos.

The Reputational Costs and Ethical Implications of Coercive Limited Air Strikes: The Fallacy of the Middle-Ground Approach
Danielle L. Lupton

Limited air strikes present an attractive "middle-ground approach" for policymakers, as they are less costly to coercers than deploying troops on the ground. Policymakers believe that threatening and employing limited air strikes signal their resolve to targets. This essay debunks this fallacy and explains how the same factors that make limited air strikes attractive to coercers are also those that undermine their efficacy as a coercive tool of foreign policy.


Lengthening the Shadow of International Law [Open Access]
Tanisha M. Fazal
In 2010, the International Criminal Court made aggression a crime for which individuals can be prosecuted. But questions around what constitutes aggression, who decides, and, most important, how effective this legal change will be in reducing the incidence of war remain. This review essay considers these questions in light of two recent books on the criminalization of aggression: Noah Weisbord's The Crime of Aggression: The Quest for Justice in an Age of Drones, Cyberattacks, Insurgents, and Autocrats and Tom Dannenbaum's The Crime of Aggression, Humanity, and the Soldier.

A Problem from Washington: Samantha Power Enters the Foreign Policy Bureaucracy
Michael Barnett

In her new memoir, The Education of an Idealist, Samantha Power reflects on her eight years in the Obama administration. This review essay considers Power's new memoir against her earlier book, A Problem from Hell, and argues that there is a considerable disjuncture between the two. What does this tell us about the possibility for ethics in foreign policy?

REVIEWS [All Open Access]

The Morality of Security: A Theory of Just Securitization
Rita Floyd

Review by Matt McDonald
In this book, Rita Floyd sets out to develop a normative theory of securitization: a "Just Securitization Theory." Drawing directly on insights from the just war tradition, Floyd outlines a set of criteria for determining whether, and in what circumstances, viewing and approaching particular issues as security threats is morally defensible.

Dwelling in the Age of Climate Change: The Ethics of Adaptation
Elaine Kelly

Review by Byron Williston
While climate change-induced migration has received extensive analysis from political geographers, security experts, and others, it has been undertheorized by moral and political philosophers. This book goes a long way toward redressing that imbalance of attention.

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