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Maintaining Discrimination in Operation Iraqi Freedom

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Master's thesis

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Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF has put the issue of distinguishing between combatants and noncombatants front and center. The multiple insurgent groups that the US-led coalition forces faced following the initial conventional phases of the Iraq War that ended in Spring 2003 are a far cry from the traditional view of combatants, as the insurgents are non-uniformed and often carry arms secretly. Just War Theory is an important philosophical tradition, with one of its most crucial aims being to instruct commanders, officers, and soldiers on how to fight justly. I want to reexamine the principle of discrimination in light of OIF to determine if Iraqi insurgents can obtain a legitimate combatant status, and if they can or cannot, what this means for coalition soldiers. To do so, I will analyze three views regarding combatant status from Michael Walzer, Jeff McMahan, and Larry May, and I maintain that viewing combatants collectively is still the most practical way to determine combatant status. I then apply this view to the Iraqi insurgents and come to the conclusion that because soldiers want to fight justly, an opposing force must be cordoned off from the civilian populace in Iraq. To do so, then coalition forces need to continue to step up intelligence efforts to ensure their forces can meet this requirement. If coalition forces cannot accomplish this, then the counterinsurgency can no longer be fought because the principle of discrimination can no longer be upheld.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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