War and Conflict

The War and Conflict node examines the traditional security challenge of military conflict, both actual and potential. Subjects considered include the evolution of modern warfare, emerging military technologies, the balance of power in the international system, arms control and disarmament, professional military ethics, and international laws of armed conflict.

Licence (Not) to Kill: 'Non-Lethal' Weapons and the Twenty-First Century Warrior

This project explores the operational, ethical and legal significance of contemporary 'non-lethal' military technology. To date, there has been little scholarship on this topic in Australia, even though Australian military personnel are increasingly being deployed to conflict areas where non-lethal weapons (NLW) might be considered useful. The philosophical impetus for such research is that the very notion of deeming a weapon to be 'non-lethal' is highly problematic: some weapons, although intended to have lethal effects, do not kill the intended target; and other weapons, which are intended to leave the target alive, can be lethal in fact. The potential and actual use of NLW raises important questions of conscience and sensibility for military professionals and civilians alike. For example: what relative value is and should be placed on pain, injury and death? How does the use of NLW relate to the Just War requirement that war be waged in a discriminate and proportionate fashion? Does the technological search for a 'bloodless war' make the resort to armed force more likely? In suggesting answers to these questions, the project assesses the extent to which 21st Century NLW technology removes the warrior's traditional licence to kill.

A Healthy Conflict? Medical Ethics and the Conduct of War

This project assesses the ethical challenges faced by medical professionals seeking to preserve health and save lives in an environment of politically-motivated violence. Focusing on the ongoing Iraq War in the context of the broader 'War on Terror', the analysis is presented in four sections. The first is a general discussion about the extent to which medical and military ethics are conflicting or complementary. For example, do the presence and activities of medical professionals have a moderating influence on war? Or does pursuing the ideal of a 'healthy' armed conflict make the resort to force more likely? The remaining three sections use case studies to draw out and test the nature of the relationship between medical and military ethics: (1) the treatment of soldiers and civilians wounded in Iraq; (2) the conscientious objection to the Iraq War by a British Air Force medical officer; and (3) the role of medical professionals in interrogations conducted at Abu Ghraib prison and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The ethical principles considered in the project include the Hippocratic maxim of primum non nocere ('first, do no harm'), neutrality and impartiality in the provision of humanitarian assistance, and the jus in bello notions of discrimination and proportionality

A Timeless Struggle: Conflict in the Land of Israel/Palestine

Few conflicts in modern history have generated as much passion and partisanship as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Even the way in which the history is told has often become a part of the conflict itself. Writing for Australia's HSC Modern History syllabus, Leanne Piggott recently completed a textbook on the struggle. By combining narrative, documentary sources, personal testimonies and historiography, Leanne's book, A Timeless Struggle, allows all parties to tell their story in their own terms and to the highest effect. The book makes the compelling case that this conflict is more than just a dispute over territory and boundaries. It involves the deepest aspirations, historic emotions and sense of identity (both national and religious) of two peoples.