Scuds, Shelters and Retreating Soldiers: The Laws of Aerial Bombardment in the Gulf War


  • Peter Barber



The author looks at whether laws governing war can ever reduce suffering by imposing restrictions on the methods and means of waging war. In particular, the laws of war have tended either to address past technology or to fall victim to the exigencies of war. The author first discusses, without deciding, whether there can be any moral grounding for laws regulating war. Next, he examines the development of laws governing aerial bombardment. Pertinent international laws, protocols and conventions are canvassed. Finally, the efficacy of the laws of aerial bombardment are assessed within the context of three specific events during the Gulf War. The author evaluates whether combatants in the Gulf War adhered to the laws governing aerial bombardment; he concludes that the stronger party's conduct during the Gulf War substantially complied with these restrictions. Such adherence in itself constitutes a law-making function. Thus, although the enforceability of laws restricting war is arguable, the body of law itself can have the limiting effect intended.