The Conceptualization of War and the Value of Political Traditions
The failure of the laws of war to resolve the problem of distinguishing between lawful and unlawful combatants provided the starting point for this project. As previous chapters have illustrated, there existed at all levels a profound disagreement as to the classes of people who were permitted to engage in political violence in times of war. This was apparent in legal textbooks, in military manuals, at over seventy-five years of diplomatic conferences, and most sharply on the battlefields and in the towns and villages of occupied Europe in the late eighteenth, nine- teenth, and early twentieth centuries. By narrowing the scope of inquiry to only one aspect of the laws of war, the early chapters have also shown that there were strong normative elements to this lack of accord. The remainder of this book will argue that these normative elements were expressions of profound ideological clashes among three contending philosophies of war: martial, Grotian, and republican. From a methodological perspective, the explanation for the failed attempt to construct a distinction between lawful and unlawful combatant will be seen to lie in incommensurable normative frameworks of war, rather than in the specialized analytical tools of legal theory, diplomatic and archival history, and international relations theory.1 This chapter will first assess both the intellectual contributions and limitations of the latter approaches, before defining three distinct traditions of war, and high- lighting their explanatory value.
The first--and most obvious--place to begin the search for an adequate explanation of the problem of distinction must be the traditional____________________