Why We Need The Laws Of War

Norm Geras makes what is increasingly a minority case among Americans:

The intentional targeting of civilians is a war crime, and not just the use of nuclear weapons against them. That is why terrorism is a criminal act. So is the carpet-bombing of population centres. I also agree that one shouldn't treat international law as if it were a system without blemishes, imperfections, problems - to be remedied and improved upon….

On the other hand, to dismiss the concept of crime from the conduct of war would amount, in effect, to allowing that war may be lawless - fought without moral restraints of any kind, only strategic ones. …Whatever the deficits of international law may be at present, the world would be a different, and a worse, place if there were no laws of war and no concept of war crimes.

Norm is responding to this.