Christian Nikolaus Braun
A moral compass for the use of limited force that draws on the just war thought of Thomas Aquinas
One of the most contentious developments in contemporary international relations has been the increased use of limited force. On the one hand, insofar as it signals greater constraint, the shift away from the mechanized slaughter of large-scale warfare toward more calibrated applications of force may be hailed as a step in the right direction. On the other, because uses of limited force appear more compartmentalized and therefore containable, it may encourage states’ more frequent recourse to arms. How, then, are we to make moral sense of this shift toward the small-scale use of force? When are these operations morally justifiable?
Limited Force and the Fight for the Just War Tradition offers a moral compass for just war theorists and extends the limited scholarship on jus ad vim (the just use of limited force). Based on a historical approach to just war and case studies, this book provides practical arguments on the question of how the practice of targeted killing and punitive airstrikes should be regulated in order to be morally defensible. Drawing from a historical reading of the just war thought of Thomas Aquinas, Braun demonstrates how classical just war thinking not only helps us grapple with the moral questions of limited force but can also make an important third-way contribution to a field of study that has been engaged in a metaphorical fight about the just war tradition.
Download the open access ebook.
Part I: Limited Force and the Promise of a Third-Way Approach
1: Limited Force and the Fight for the Just War Tradition
2: The Neo-Classical Just War as Third Way
3. Recapturing Casuistry for Just War Thinking
Part II: The Enduring Relevance of Aquinas
4. Why Aquinas?
5. Aquinas on the Authority to Wage War
6. Aquinas on Just Cause and Right Intention
Part III: Recovering Just War for Statecraft
7. The Cases: Targeted Killing
8. Targeted Killing: Casuistical Investigation and General Argument
9. The Cases: Limited Strikes to Enforce International Norms
10. Limited Strikes: Casuistical Investigation and General Argument
About the Author
"This book is an outstanding contribution to the ongoing debate about the ethics of war. It explores the paradox of limited war—taming war by making it more precise surreptitiously normalizes war, thus making it a constant feature of international affairs. In so doing, the book bridges the long-standing divide between traditional just-war theorists and contemporary revisionists. A must read for insight about the morality of armed force in today’s world."—Gregory M. Reichberg, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO),
"“Braun’s perceptive book turns to classical just war thinking to shed light on the ethics of limited force. It will be of great interest to all those concerned with debates about jus ad vim, targeted killing, retributive strikes to enforce international norms, and just war as statecraft.”"—Daniel R. Brunstetter, professor of political science, University of California, Irvine
""Christian Braun is one of today’s leading scholars of the ethics of war. Here he applies his extensive knowledge of the just war tradition to cutting edge questions regarding the use of force short of war. Elegant, thoughtful, and powerfully argued, Limited Force and the Fight for the Just War Tradition is a triumph.""—Cian O'Driscoll, associate professor of international relations, Australian National University
"“This book offers a refreshing and well-reasoned contribution to just war thinking. Braun does an excellent job of using Thomas Aquinas’s ideas to enrich and advance the moral debate about small-scale instances of political violence.”"—Christian Enemark, ,
""Christian Braun’s book makes the history of just war, particularly the work of Thomas Aquinas, speak directly to the complexities and moral ambiguities of using force today. His innovative approach draws together multiple strands in the tradition of just war theorizing to provide guidance to policymakers, military officials, and citizens as we all grapple with remote warfare. A must read for anyone who cares about peace and justice today.""—Anthony F. Lang, professor of International Political Theory, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews
Christian Nikolaus Braun is a lecturer in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London. He was formerly a Radboud Excellence Initiative Fellow at Radboud University. His work has been published in leading academic journals, including Ethics & International Affairs, Global Studies Quarterly, International Relations, and International Theory.
256 pp., 6 x 9
256 pp., 6 x 9