Skip to content

Gabriella Blum, The Dispensable Lives of Soldiers, in Weighing Lives in War (Jens David Ohlin, Larry May & Claire Finkelstein eds., 2017).

Abstract: This chapter challenges the status-based distinction of the laws of war, calling instead for revised targeting doctrines that would place further limits on the killing of enemy soldiers. The chapter argues that the changing nature of wars and militaries casts doubts on the necessity of killing all enemy combatants indiscriminately. The chapter proposes two amendments. The first is a reinterpretation of the principle of distinction, suggesting that the status-based classification be complemented by a test of threat. The second is a reinterpretation of the principle of military necessity, introducing a least-harmful-means test, under which, whenever feasible, an alternative of capture or disabling of the enemy would be preferred to killing.