By: Shannon N. Green and Daniel R. Mahanty
“What if the problem with the forever war is that it’s too humane?”
That question was posed by Samuel Moyn, a professor of history and law at Yale University, at the outset of a recent lecture he gave at Duke School of Law. By opening his lecture in this way, Moyn may have merely intended to stimulate a spirited debate about the potential downside of the emphasis placed on the laws and norms restraining the conduct of hostilities in war, namely that it may help to explain why the United States is able to expand the war on terror with so little resistance or limitation. Questioning the necessity and unbounded nature of a war that takes place mostly out of sight and out of mind for most Americans is a worthy endeavor. But, as two people who work for a non-governmental organization devoted to the protection of civilians, we nonetheless feel compelled to directly and publicly challenge the notion that increasing humanity in war is a bad thing.