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Slaughterhouse-Six: Updating the Law of War, Part 2 of 2

By Ed Morgan
Read the Full Contribution as a PDF

[Editors' Note: Due to its size, this article is published in its HTML version in two parts. This is part 2/2.]


C.  The Law's Authorial Voice

[21]  The war in Iraq and the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel share the fact of violent engagement, but the two theaters seem to move in opposite political directions. To put the matter simply, while the former gave rise to a newborn occupation the latter struggles against an aging one.[80] The legal instruments addressing the use of force in these two confrontations are likewise mirror images of each other.

[22]  It is commonplace to note that article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter mandates pacifism as the governing international ethic, all else being equal.[81] This theme finds a place of prominence in the resolutions directed at the Israel-Palestine conflict meted out by international institutions,[82] the primary focus of which is on Israel's use of force. As a potential qualifier on article 2(4), the possibility has been mooted that there is a place in international legal discourse for military operations in cases of humanitarian[83] or human rights[84] concern. It is the extended debate over the use of force by Palestinians in their quest for self-determination,[85] however, that has most prominently tested the boundaries of official pacifism. The central legal question of the Middle East conflict now asks whether the occupation of territory designated for self-government by the civilian population residing there justifies an armed attack on the occupier.

[23]  Like Vonnegut in third person, Vonnegut in first person, and Kilgour Trout as the writer within the writer of Vonnegut's science fiction, the law's interpretive debates...