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24 Yale J. Int'l L. 559 (1999)
Responding to Terrorism: The Strikes against bin Laden

handle is hein.journals/yjil24 and id is 571 raw text is: Responding to Terrorism:
The Strikes Against
bin Laden
Ruth Wedgwoodt
The legal structure of warfare is a dramatic example of a changing
regime, even while its fundamental principles remain constant. Conflict
management asks that international actors devise and follow rules to prevent
the reckless escalation and widening of conflicts-often requiring deterrence
as well as defense-and to promote the termination of violence and the
rebuilding of post-war confidence. Principles of humanity ask that conflicts be
conducted in a way that minimizes the needless suffering of soldiers and
protects noncombatant civilians. The application of these principles may not
look the same in each era, with changes in technology, the character of
conflicts, and the personality of the actors.
Modem terrorism has salient differences from traditional warfare. The
actors are often not states, but rather ideological, political, or ethnic factions.
States have a host of international commitments and aspirations that create an
incentive to avoid all-out warfare and to avoid undermining the rules of war,
while a single-purpose terrorist organization may operate without mitigation.
A terrorist group often calculates that it will win attention for its cause and
undermine a target government by the very atrocity of its tactics. A terrorist
group is less vulnerable to international sanctions, as it does not possess a
visible economy, land area, or identified population. With an uncertain
membership and inchoate form, terrorist networks lie outside the web of civil
responsibility that constrains private and public actors in international society.
Technology has changed the landscape of conflict. The international
market in weapons of mass destruction has prevented any easy cordon
sanitaire against proliferation to irresponsible actors. Arms control regimes
attempt to dissuade suppliers from selling precursors and components to
questionable customers, but false destinations and straw man end-users are
t    Professor of Law at Yale University and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign
Relations. She is on sabbatical during the 1998-1999 academic year as the Charles Stockton Professor
of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. The views expressed are
her own and are not to be attributed to any organization or agency.
1.   For example, the Australia Group is an informal organization of interested countries
dedicated to slowing the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons by limiting the export of
precursors and production equipment. The Nuclear Suppliers Group coordinates export controls on
nuclear components, and the Wassenar Arrangement (of which Russia is a member) limits exports of

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