Rules of War

When, if ever, is war justified? How are ethical norms translated into rules that govern armed conflict? Are these rules still relevant in light of the changing nature of warfare?

About the course

We will examine seminal readings on just war theory, investigate the legal rules that govern the resort to and conduct of war, and study whether these rules affect the conduct of states and individuals. Students will engage actively with these questions by participating in an interactive role-playing simulation, in which they will be assigned roles as government officials, advisors, or other actors.

  • Scott D. Sagan (Political Science)
  • Allen S. Weiner (School of Law)

A role-playing simulation

Lt. Colonel Mark PyeThe centerpiece of "Rules of War" is a week long role-play simulation, during which students are assigned positions in a Presidential Cabinet and debate the legal, strategic, and moral issues concomitant with a hypothetical case of US military action. In the image, Lt. Colonel Mark Pye (USAF), an active B-2 Spirit pilot, addresses the students of the course on a set of military options for a humanitarian intervention in Syria. The simulation briefing closely resembled what would actually be presented to the Cabinet by a USCENTCOM J5 officer.