Ethical debates about state use of force have long distinguished between the conditions of peace and war, with different ethical frameworks governing each. The distinction is important because the scope of force that is justifiable in a situation of law enforcement is much more restricted than what is permissible in the context of war. There exists a rich scholarship on just war in the 21st century that has remained anchored in the historical categories of jus ad bellum, jus in bello and jus post bellum to explore the ethical issues associated with the use of force in a wide variety of contexts. However, current global conditions raise questions about the viability of the traditionalist just war paradigm. In particular, the use of limited force – drone strikes, punitive strike, no fly zones, special forces raids – are becoming more and more frequent, but it is unclear whether they fall under the morality of war. Does the limited scope of force change the ethical concerns compared to those we typically associate with the liberal law enforcement paradigm and the jus ad bellum? Does it raise new ethical concerns? Taking into account the limits of the liberal law enforcement and just war paradigms, what would a complete theory of the just and unjust use of limited force look like? Brunstetter asserts that limited force is somehow different than war, and that this difference warrants reformulating, reimagining, and recalibrating the just war frameworks we have to better take into account the moral dilemmas associated with limited force. To this end, he articulates the limitations of the law enforcement and just war paradigms, identifies the dilemmas associated with limited force, and delineates the principles of a moral framework of limited force to provide a more calibrated language of critique to hold democratic leaders who use limited force in check.

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