I am a retired Army officer who believes in the moral standing of the profession of arms, yet recognizes its shortcomings. I served in the Army from 1984-2017, mostly in the infantry and on the faculty at West Point. As a researcher of combat leadership and ethics, I interviewed hundreds of Army leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003-2011. Welcome to this online space for thinking about war, morality, and the profession of arms. Follow me @combat_ethics
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Rules of War are Inadequate to Guide Cyber Operations in War
The current rules of war assume that a country can answer three fundamental questions:
Are we at war?
What country are we at war against?
Whom or what may we legitimately target?
The nature of cyberwarfare muddles the answers to each of those three questions.
A much-needed update to the laws of war should begin with a thorough moral analysis of the nature of 21st-century warfare. That analysis would set the conditions for an informed public dialogue about morality and war. The conversations should be public because war is a public act carried out on behalf of the people and in their name. Now that cyber operations have become integrated into wartime combat operations, their role should no longer be secret. The public dialogue’s resulting consensus and contours would enable international legal experts to write a system of laws that are morally grounded, internally consistent and internationally understood.