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Gabriella Blum, The Paradox of Power: The Changing Norms of the Modern Battlefield, 56 Hous. L. Rev. 745 (2019).

Abstract: We live in a paradox of power: our capabilities of inflicting destruction through military means are unparalleled in human history; yet, for liberal democracies, contemporary military practices are the most restrained they have ever been, at least as far as effects of military operations on civilians go. This Article describes the ways in which laws, norms, and technology have come together to produce the paradox of power. It begins with the observation that the international laws that govern resort to force by states (the jus ad bellum) have had only limited effect on states' initiation or continuation of war, including by liberal democracies. Yet, the international laws that govern the conduct of war (the jus in bello), in combination with prevailing norms and advanced technology, have had substantial effects on how liberal democracies fight their wars. The combination of ongoing, open-ended wars that are harder to fight while complying with contemporary norms of warfare produce a set of unique challenges for liberal democracies.