Writing in this journal in 2013, Daniel Brunstetter and Megan Braun have suggested that some forms of interstate violence—in particular, uses of force that fall short of full-scale war—cannot be judged by the principles that are commonly used to evaluate war. They argue that such uses of force should instead be evaluated with reference to a distinctive set of principles that, following Michael Walzer, they call jus ad vim. In this essay I argue that such a proposed set of principles is redundant, and that the jus ad vim project stems largely from an implausible understanding of the principles of jus ad bellum.
I begin by outlining Brunstetter and Braun’s arguments in favor of jus ad vim. I then go on to show that each of these arguments fails and that, properly understood, the traditional principles of jus ad bellum do the necessary work in restricting and permitting force. I conclude by considering Brunstetter and Braun’s claims about the implications of jus ad vim for the use of drones, arguing that, contra Brunstetter and Braun, jus ad vim does not better capture the harms and goods relevant to uses of limited force, and does not better adhere to the requirement of discrimination.
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