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INSS LogoBy Asa Kasher and Amos Yadlin
INSS – Military and Strategic Affairs Program

Between Military Ethics and the Laws of War

19112191_sThe ethical doctrine of the war on terror is a set of principles that reflects an orderly conception dealing with the proper ways of conducting warfare against terrorism. Such a doctrine mediates between abstract values such as the “IDF spirit,” designed to guide commanders and soldiers’ behavior in any circumstances during their operations, and regulations, ROEs, and orders given to guide their behavior in a mission of a certain kind, under specific circumstances, at a specific time, and in a specific place.

The ethical doctrine at the background of this article and the articles published in a previous issue of this journal is the ethical doctrine for fighting terror that was developed in the context of the war between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organizations during the first decade of this century. The writers of this article developed it with the help of a team at the IDF Defense College and with the participation of specialists in anti-terror warfare and IDF and academic specialists in ethics and international law. The doctrine was presented in various official forums, and was subsequently published in professional journals. Although it has not been officially adopted as the IDF ethical code of war on terror, three chiefs of staff who were in office during the period of fighting terror and many other officers have expressed support for its principles on various occasions, and many regard it as the Israeli doctrine.

Inaccurate media portrayals of the doctrine triggered responses of various kinds, including opposition to one principle or another that was attributed to us as the authors of the doctrine. Such responses are also reflected in articles published in the previous issue. In the current article and its follow-up, which will be published in the near future, we shall clarify several aspects of the ethical doctrine of the war on terror as we presented it in our articles; respond to a few of the arguments raised against it; and point out a number of updates, pertaining mainly to new situations in the war on terror in the Israeli theater and in other theaters, among them the theaters in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.



Prof. Asa Kasher is the Laura Schwarz-Kipp Professor Emeritus of Professional Ethics and Philosophy of Practice, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is the Director of INSS.

This article was first published in Military & Strategic Affairs journal. Volume 5 issue 1.

To read the full article, press the following link:

Determining Norms for Warfare in New Situations