US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby. Public Domain, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

Modern Warfare: The Prospects and Challenges of Conflict Today

Our summer 2016 feature issue, Modern Warfare: The Prospects and Challenges of Conflict Today, has hit newsstands! Check it out, as well as some exclusive online content.

From the early twentieth century, warfare has evolved at a rapid pace to make previously unimagined concepts like unmanned aircraft and automated weapons systems common realities of our time. The question of what is ethical and just has lagged behind this exponential growth in mechanized weapons. The lag between technology and law has created a unique battleground for states within the international arena that at times exasperates the humanitarian and accountability measures put in place to deal with war. In this issue, the Harvard International Review will look at the prospects and challenges of conflict today and the new tools that are used to fight at times age-old battles to better understand where we are, and more importantly, where we are headed in our bid to effectively preserve human life during times of war.

The ethical questions at play within the parameters of modern warfare necessitate conversations on topics ranging from ways to optimize human strengths on the battlefield to changes in strategy that carry different political implications than the traditional declaration of war. In this issue, individuals working at the forefront of these conflicts grapple with complex questions and dilemmas that result from the modernization of warfare and the legal void it leaves behind. Anthony H. Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, examines the conflicts and potential for lasting stability in the Middle East and North Africa. Stephen D. Goose and Mary Wareham of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch explore the proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons systems and their legal ramifications. Colonel Thomas W. O’Steen discusses the lessons learned from the war on terror and the future security challenges resulting from the advent of new technologies. Eeben Barlow, founder of STTEP, analyzes the role that private military companies can play in mitigating the threats posed by militant groups such as Boko Haram. Staff writers Laura Kanji, Veronica Ma, and Ryan Sim reflect on the impact of modern warfare on civilians and the victims of war.

In addition to the featured content, the interview with Vanessa Kerry, founder and CEO of Seed Global Health, outlines the necessary steps needed to promote global health initiatives. Former Ambassador Gary Locke talks about the dynamics of US-China relations and the road ahead. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a youth activist focused on environmental issues, discusses the role of the younger generation in promoting dialogue on climate change. Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, reflects on the challenges that faced his city in its bid to host the Olympics as well as the long-term changes he hopes to focus on throughout the remainder of his term. Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund describes how the organization is leveraging private-sector partnerships to promote conservation. Furthermore, in her article, Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, founder and executive director of WomenStrong International, highlights the important role that women play in promoting effective global development. Kolleen Bouchane, Board President of the Global Campaign for Education – United States, sheds light on the importance of bringing education of refugee children into focus in order to successfully reintegrate them into society. Finally, Jennifer Shasky Calvery and Kevin Bell of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) examine money laundering in the US real estate market and FinCEN’s role in addressing these crimes.

Removing soldiers from the war equation does not do away with the civilian causalities of war. This is a concept that states in the international arena must be cognizant of as they seek to modernize their defence capabilities. We may be on the path to reducing conventional warfare, but we are nowhere near eradicating the sentiments, struggles, or effects behind declarations of war.  In this issue, the Harvard International Review takes stock of the legal and ethical ramifications of this advancement, cautioning policymakers to take a step back and examine these questions before taking steps forward.

To a safer tomorrow






Ashley Collins & Mahnoor Faisal Khan


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