International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security: The Strategic Deployment of Lawyers in the Israeli Military

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9780739171462: International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security: The Strategic Deployment of Lawyers in the Israeli Military
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Delegitimation has become the new battleground for Israel and the critics of Israeli military operations. But the Israeli experience reveals a more general engagement where all states act strategically to build legitimacy for their policies and all resist attempts at delegitimation. To understand these processes it is necessary to see how politicized moral and legal judgments shape both the use of force by states and our judgments about the means and the outcomes. This is a book about legitimacy, military lawyers, and security. More particularly, it is about how the legitimacy of Israel’s asymmetric military operations cannot be detached from the politics of law and ethics. Sometimes it is enough that states respect the laws of armed conflict, but at other times they may be held to a higher standard. This does not happen in a vacuum. Rather it is the product of political engagement in the murky politics of international legitimacy where standards are negotiable and some states get a harder time than others. There is a strong theoretical analysis underpinning a discussion that constantly returns to the practical problems of modern armed conflict where combatants hide among civilians and states complain about the unrealistic expectations of human rights NGOs. Here, the law is unclear and there are choices to be made. The book presents new research into the involvement of Israeli military lawyers in operational targeting decision making that has life and death consequences. The case studies concern targeted killing during the Second Intifada, Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War, the 2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and, finally, the 2010 Israeli maritime interception of the ‘Turkish Flotilla’ to Gaza. The investigation identifies a struggle between the proponents of human rights in war and those who promote the rights of states to deploy military force for the security of their citizens. But not all parties to a military conflict are held to the same standards. In fact, the analysis maps a complex political deployment of law and ethics in the strategic calculation of legitimacy costs and the diplomatic processes whereby they are contested, with policy implications for those in charge of the design and execution of military operations.

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About the Author:

Alan Craig is the Pears Lecturer in Israel and Middle East Studies, Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. He practiced as a human rights lawyer in London and Leeds for twenty-five years before completing a PhD at Leeds and joining the faculty in 2010. His publications include several journal articles and he is a regular contributor to European TV and radio.

Review:

In this ground breaking work, Alan Craig offers an exacting critique of the growing role that military lawyers now play in the conduct of operations by the Israel Defense Forces. Conceptually sophisticated yet empirically grounded, this book is the definitive work for anyone wishing to understand why military lawyers exercise increasing influence over how the IDF and its political masters have come to deal with ‘war amongst the people.' This book will be essential reading not only for those interested in how Israel has used legal frameworks in the conduct of its military operations, but more broadly, how contemporary debates over justice and legitimacy shape civil-military relations in democratic societies. (Clive Jones, University of Durham)

International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security provides a number of hugely enlightening and important analyses of the rising role of international NGOs in international affairs. It is an illuminating study of the relationship between international law and international legitimacy, and the place of the Traditional Just War Doctrine and its modern critiques in the contemporary political, ethical, and moral debate over Israel. In showing the increasing centrality of lawyers in warfare and the law in war, Craig successfully provides a balanced and scholarly analysis of the implications and consequences of this for Israel’s military and political leadership. (Rory Miller)

Alan Craig’s important book focuses on the question of how the legitimacy of Israel’s asymmetric military operations is understood through the strategic deployment of lawyers and legal and ethical argument. The book’s main focus is on the legal role within the IDF. Craig’s analysis employs the concept of legitimacy to understand the legal and political strategies of Israel and the IDF in general, and in particular those of the IDF’s international law department. (Israel Studies Review)

The book makes a more original contribution to the field of sociolegal studies by implicitly addressing this literature’s central question of whether law offers activists useful channels for translating their demands into enforceable rights or undermines their struggle by justifying—and legalizing—the status quo. In the context of the Israeli occupation, law’s greatest promise is to offer morally defensible, and not overtly politicized, criteria to distinguish between the permissible and impermissible uses of violence. Yet, the effort to establish such criteria encourages legal actors to articulate new categories (for example, 'unlawful combatants,' who are not entitled to the protection of either civilians or combatants) that blur previously accepted distinctions and restore discretion, flexibility, and potentially arbitrariness, re-empowering states in an increasingly legalized field where actions have to be justified through legal discourse. Craig’s analysis perceptively underlines the indeterminacy and multivocality of law by demonstrating how each actor constructs a legal argument based upon its own categories and an underlying morality that is fundamentally at odds with the moral worldview of its rival. Within sociolegal studies, the role of law in restraining and enabling Israel’s occupation has been analyzed by Lisa Hajjar, Ronen Shamir, Lori Allen, and Tobias Kelly, among others. International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security speaks to the issues raised by these works . . . [T]he case study chapters are sure to be of value to instructors looking for material with which to teach the moral and legal controversies pertaining to Israel’s security policy, while the book as a whole will interest sociolegal scholars and international relations theorists. (International Journal of Middle East Studies)

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