This is a book about how civilians suffer in war and why people decide that they should. Most civilian suffering in war is deliberate and always has been. Massacres, rape, displacement, famine and disease are usually designed. They are policies in war. In meetings or on mobile phones, political and military leaders decide that civilians are appropriate or inevitable targets.
The principle that unarmed and innocent people should be protected in war is an ancient, precious but fragile idea. Today, the principle of civilian immunity is enshrined in modern international law and cherished by many. But, in practice, leaders in most wars reject the principle.
Using detailed historical and contemporary examples, "Killing Civilians" looks at the many ways in which civilians suffer in wars and analyses the main anti-civilian ideologies which insist upon such suffering.
It also exposes the very real ambiguity in much civilian identity which is used to justify extreme hostility. But this is also, above all, a book about why civilians should be protected. Throughout its pages, "Killing Civilians" argues for a morality of limited warfare in which tolerance, mercy and restraint are used to draw boundaries to violence. At the heart of the book are important new frameworks for understanding patterns of civilian suffering, ideologies of violence and strategies for promoting the protection of civilians.
This is the first major treatment of the hard questions of civilian identity and protection in war for many years. Written by one of the humanitarian world's leading thinkers and former aid worker, it provides a unique and accessible text on the subject for professional and public readerships alike.