In recent conflicts, the traditional rules of humanitarian neutrality and efforts to avoid civilian targeting have eroded. Long standing norms rooted in the Geneva Convention have been dramatically violated in recent years as the frequency and severity of attacks against health workers, facilities, and civilians have increased.
The horrors of the war in Syria, terrorist attacks, burgeoning refugee crises, the annexation of Crimea, and South China Sea disputes continue to prompt fears about the world’s direction. But, earlier this decade, Steven Pinker argued violence was declining with the end of the Cold War and the success of some peacekeeping efforts. Is that good news story obsolete?
There is a growing cacophony of voices questioning why there is not more progress in the White House’s stated goal to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” Indeed, although ISIL’s territory in Iraq and Syria shrank by 9.4 percent in the first six months of 2015, ISIL’s presence has grown significantly in other areas of the Middle East and North Africa since mid-2014. What gets lost in the cacophony is that the Counter-ISIL Strategy is not designed to be a quick win or overwhelming “shock and awe” campaign, nor is the onus solely on the United States to defeat ISIL.