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The Image before the WeaponA Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian$
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Helen M. Kinsella

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449031

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449031.001.0001

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(p.187) 8 Responsibility
The Image before the Weapon

Helen M. Kinsella

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter discusses the continuing challenges of interpreting and implementing the principle of distinction. In considering the principle, both its critics and advocates note that compliance with and the implementation of this principle are circumscribed by evaluations of military necessity and calculations of proportionality. Moreover, the evolution of technologies and different techniques of war may also mar compliance and implementation, or may render the distinction ambiguous in practice. In the midst of these and other dilemmas surrounding the topic, the chapter concedes that the series of discourses—gender, innocence, and civilization—that brace the principle of distinction may, paradoxically, undermine its utility. An analysis of this relationship not only points to the constitutive power of the series but also underscores the complex and contradictory ways in which compliance can be understood and defined within their parameters.

Keywords:   principle of distinction, military necessity, technology, compliance, indeterminacy, discourses of gender, discourses of innocence, discourses of civilization

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