Military medical ethics in contemporary armed conflict: mobilizing medicine in the pursuit of just war

New York: Oxford University Press (2021)
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Abstract

The goal of military medicine is to conserve the fighting force necessary to prosecute just wars. Just wars are defensive or humanitarian. A defensive war protects one's people or nation. A humanitarian war rescues a foreign, persecuted people or nation from grave human rights abuse. To provide medical care during armed conflict, military medical ethics supplements civilian medical ethics with two principles: military-medical necessity and broad beneficence. Military-medical necessity designates the medical means required to pursue national self-defense or humanitarian intervention. While clinical-medical necessity directs care to satisfy urgent medical needs, military-medical necessity utilizes medical care to satisfy the just aims of war. Military medicine may therefore attend the lightly wounded before the critically wounded or use medical care to win hearts and minds. The underlying principle is broad, not narrow, beneficence. The latter addresses private interests, while broad beneficence responds to the collective welfare of the political community.

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