Wars and conflicts are becoming increasingly complex. Terms such as “hybrid warfare” reflect far-reaching changes. From an ethical viewpoint, it is a particularly serious concern that some warring parties now hardly ever respect rules or laws. This makes the implementation of ethical standards all the more important.
But do new scenarios necessarily need new rules? David Whetham thinks not. In his view, the “just war” doctrine offers a sound ethical foundation for present-day confrontations. Martial-sounding talk of “just war” masks the fact that the doctrine, although it was introduced to regulate interstate wars, is applicable to “hybrid” conflicts as well.
According to Whetham’s thesis, criteria such as “just cause”, “right intention” and “last resort” can in principle be used to justify exceptions. In general, the traditional criteria of the “just war” can be used to assess specific measures against enemies who are operating in a “hybrid” manner. At the same time, Whetham believes that this averts the danger of having to give up legal principles and values in war.