Modern conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has proved to be unlike any other conflict in history. United States and Coalition forces are faced with an insurgent enemy that defies all pre-established Laws of Armed Combat. As we transition from a wartime operations to a peacekeeping environment, it is important to reflect upon the moral and legal struggles that our soldiers face in the line of duty. Certainly, it cannot be easy to distinguish between lawful or unlawful combatants and innocent civilians in a war that lacks a clearly defined enemy. As a result, it is necessary to examine our rules of engagement and our motivations for adherence to them. To do so, one must understand the foundation for United States rules of engagement and their legal applicability in the international arena. Critics would argue that the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan warrants a new strategy which discounts Laws of Armed Combat in pursuit of success; in other words, justifying our desired ends by their necessary means. Nevertheless, it is pertinent that the United States remain resolute in will, combating our enemies with respect to the ethical and legal guidelines laid out by the international community. In doing so, the virtues of freedom and democracy are better served, both domestically and abroad. In modern conflict involving combat against insurgents and terrorists, the United States’ political structure and reputation necessitates adherence to specific rules of engagement that are in agreement with pre-established Laws of Armed Combat. Such adherence may somewhat compromise the safety of Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the defense of universal human rights and the foundations of international law is arguably of the utmost importance if we wish to ensure stability and security within the international system.
"Rules Of Engagement: Seeking Moral and Legal Sufficiency in the 21st Century,"
Vol. 2, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/globaltides/vol2/iss1/4