‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers‘
We live in an era of increasing individual legal responsibility at national and international levels. Today, war crimes charges can arise in Belgian or German courts, not to mention the International Criminal Court.98
Although jurisdictional hurdles may make prosecutions of U.S. forces unlikely, that will not stop investigations or even indictments if these institutions interpret some IO as violating the law of war.99 Moreover, the“CNN factor” makes allegations of war crimes a matter of public discourse, rapidly dispersed through media outlets and information networks worldwide. In this environment, it is not surprising that military commanders may shy away from IO, especially if they do not know which conduct will lead to war crimes allegations. Looking at Kosovo again, the United States apparently refrained from planned CNA against Serbian computer networks for purposes of disrupting military operations and basic civil services in part due to concerns that some such CNA would be a war crime.100
It used to be the victors who had war crimes trials to hang the most effective losers. But that was back in the days when we fought conventional wars against peer state actors. I wonder if we will ever win a war again.
Am I questioning the possibility of victory because I’m a realist, or because I have been mind-fucked by somebody’s highly successful and totally uncountered IO?