The Conceptualization of War and the Value of Political Traditions

Karma Nabulsi

in Traditions of War

Published in print October 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294078
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599972 | DOI:
 The Conceptualization of War and the Value of Political Traditions

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This is the third of three chapters that set out the differing contexts through which the dilemma in the laws of war over the distinction between lawful and unlawful combatants can be viewed, and explores a range of intellectual approaches to the laws of war and war itself, assessing their relative methodological value and limitations. Previous chapters have illustrated that there existed at all levels a profound disagreement about the classes of people who were permitted to engage in political violence in times of war, and by narrowing the scope of inquiry to this one aspect (lawful versus unlawful combatants) of the laws of war, these chapters have also shown that there were strong normative elements to this lack of accord. Starting with this chapter, the remainder of the book argues that these normative elements were expressions of profound ideological clashes among three contending philosophies of war: martial, Grotian, and republican. From a methodological perspective, the explanation for the failed attempt to construct a distinction between lawful and unlawful combatants will be seen to lie in incommensurable normative frameworks of war, rather than in the specialized analytical tools of legal theory, diplomatic and archival history, and international relations theory. This chapter first assesses both the intellectual contributions and limitations of the legal, historical and international relations approaches before defining the three distinct traditions of war (martial, Grotian, and republican), and highlighting their explanatory value.

Keywords: archival history; diplomatic history; Grotian tradition; history; ideological clashes; ideologies; intellectual approaches; international relations theory; lawful combatants; laws of war; legal theory; martial tradition; philosophies of war; republican tradition; traditions of war; unlawful combatants; wars

Chapter.  6336 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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