Ethical Challenges in Stability Operations

By Tracy, Jared | Military Review, January-February 2009 | Go to article overview

Ethical Challenges in Stability Operations


Tracy, Jared, Military Review


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IN MAY 2003, the United States began the daunting task of nation building in Iraq by rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure and reformulating its political institutions. The military's role in modern stability operations, though seemingly new, fits into a preexisting American foreign policy formula. However, the military sees stability operations through contemporary ethical lenses. Since each case depends upon current ethical understanding about what the military should or should not do, past examples of stability operations do not necessarily provide fitting frameworks for modern efforts. This article focuses on ethical abstractions as well as the ways national and social views of how "right" and "wrong" translate into political and military application, and it examines examples of stability operations and the ethical challenges and implications such efforts raise. (1)

Morality in Post-war Operations

Even though moral rhetoric often permeates stability operations, international stability and perceived strategic interests have overridden moral obligations as determinants for American military commitments. A study of the ethical implications of conducting stability operations today bridges a historiographic gap in the understanding of morality in warfare. Scholars have often alluded to the prevalence of the Just War Tradition in (Western) military thought. (2) However, the Just War model is insufficient when discussing stability operations because it only describes jus ad bellum (rationale for going to war in the first place) and jus in hello (appropriate conduct during war). (3) The moral reasons for going to war are not always the same as the reasons the victor uses to justify occupation of the defeated nation. Jus in bello does continue to have relevance during stability operations, particularly when armed hostilities exist between "insurgents" and the government, unarmed civilians, and occupying forces. Legal discourse that constitutes the "Laws of War" cover much of this. (4) However, there is nothing in jus in bello that compels the victorious nation to provide security, rebuild infrastructure, improve public services, and see to the establishment of a democratic form of government. (5) In the final pages of Arguing About War (2004), noted Just War historian Michael Walzer raises the issue of morality in post-war operations, and he suggests further scholarly inquiry into a new jus post bellum theory.

Walzer argues, "It seems clear that you can fight a just war, and fight it justly, and still make a moral mess of the aftermath." Conversely, "a misguided military intervention or a preventive war fought before its time might nonetheless end with the displacement of a brutal regime and the construction of a decent one." (6) Walzer's argument highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the ethical aspects of stability operations.

Stability Operations in American History

The term "stability operations" is an inexact concept. It can be all encompassing or exclusionary, depending upon its usage. The 2008 edition of U.S. Army Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, describes stability operations as--

   Encompass[ing] various military missions,
   tasks, and activities conducted outside the
   United States in coordination with other
   instruments of national power to maintain
   or reestablish a safe and secure environment,
   provide essential governmental services,
   emergency infrastructure reconstruction,
   and humanitarian relief. Stability operations
   can be conducted in support of a host-nation
   or interim government or as part of
   an occupation when no government exists.
   Stability operations involve both coercive
   and constructive military actions. They help
   to establish a safe and secure environment
   and facilitate reconciliation among local or
   regional adversaries. Stability operations
   can also help establish political, legal, social,
   and economic institutions and support the
   transition to legitimate local governance. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ethical Challenges in Stability Operations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.