Summarize the article "Terrorism as a War Crime" by Sebastien Jodoin.
As its title indicates, "Terrorism as a War Crime" is an article that considers the possibility that considering terrorism in the context of the laws of armed conflict might "contribute to international efforts directed to combating terrorism" (2). Many aspects of international laws concerning warfare explicitly outlaw certain acts during warfare, such as the intentional targeting of civilian populations and so-called "ruses of war," that are part and parcel of terrorist acts. So terrorism in and of itself violates these laws of war. Because terrorists often claim that their acts are justified because they serve a just cause, or because they charge that civilians within a state are culpable for the actions of that state, terrorist acts not only represent a violation of humanitarian laws, but a challenge to the moral basis of these laws. As Jodoin observes, terrorism entails a "different moral conception of war, one which inexorably leads to a concept of total warfare" (16). Terrorism, by holding civilians responsible for the actions of their nation, basically eliminates the distinctions between armed forces and civilians that are the very basis of humanitarian laws of war. The problem is that the fact that terrorists are themselves often non-state actors has presented problems for nation-states, and therefore humanitarian laws have been mostly viewed as a hinderance to fighting terrorism. Jodoin argues that this is unfortunate, because humanitarian law, unlike the essentially criminal approach to dealing with terrorism in international law, treats terrorism in terms of the act itself—"prima facie apolitical"—instead of its intent (23). Humanitarian law bans acts of violence against non-combatants, and those who violate this law are terrorists. While international humanitarian law cannot stop terrorism, as the author observes:
If the primary purpose of the law of armed conflict is the limitation of chaos and human suffering prevalent in armed conflicts, then its potential to address the anarchy and anguish caused by terrorism is significant. (27)
Therefore the humanitarian laws of armed conflict should be applied to the war on terror.
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