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QUESTION 1: To what extent do this week's readings persuade you that norms do
make a difference to behavior in the area of civilian victimization? In your answer,
please be concrete and make clear whether you're referring to theoretical reasoning
or to empirical evidence. (Keep in mind that if you're skeptical about the impact of
norms you should offer some alternative explanation(s) for empirical patterns
observed in these readings.)
This weeks readings showed me that while norms influence the decision making

process of states that choose to victimize civilians, they dont significantly deter or

encourage whether or not the state chooses to victimize the civilians. Rather, they

affect the way this victimization is planned for and expressed, but dont change

whether or not it will occur. Instead, Legro and Kahl specifically highlight the role of

organizational culture and the integration of norms into the organizational culture

as the real determinants of whether or not norms such as civilian victimization will

be broken. To answer this question, Ill mainly look at the empirical evidence

provided by Legro and by Kahl.

In the case of Germany, even though the historical backdrop of Germany being

severely punished for their submarine warfare in WWI, as well as the strong overall

robustness of the submarine warfare norm, Germany still violated the norm. Legro

attributes this to the tendency for the organizational culture of Germanys military

to emphasize submarine warfare, as well as the militarys strong emphasis on

aggression. Legro explains that not only does this culture explain the violation of the

submarine norm, but also why Germany would choose to comply with the chemical

warfare norm, as CW was seen as a mainly defensive maneuver.

On the side of Britain, Legro argues that there are multiple aspects of both national

culture as well as organizational culture of Britains military that explain why it


chose to adhere to the submarine warfare norm but broke the strategic bombing

norm. First of all, Britain was one of the strongest proponents of the anti-submarine

warfare norm, and therefore not only had a national reputation, but also the

considerations of third parties when deciding whether or not to violate the norm in

retaliation to Germany. Secondly, Britains military strategy emphasized the power

of their high-seas navy, which not the military not only prided itself in, but was also

very vulnerable to submarines. Due to this, Britain had a strong incentive to push for

the submarine norm as well as not violate it and risk retaliation from Germany onto

its above-water navy. However, Britain historically had success with strategic

bombings into order to demoralize their enemies, and there was therefore a strong

trend towards violation of the strategic bombing norm.

In Kahl, the article examines U.S. military conduct during the Iraq war, and explains

why the U.S. actually complies with the noncombatant immunity norm much more

than international critics believe it to. However, Kahl attributes the success of this

norm not due to the salience of the norm itself, but due to the decision by the U.S.

military to integrate the values of the norm into its organizational culture. If it were

the robustness of the norm alone that dictated its success, then civilian deaths

would have been lower overall. However, when examining the data from IBC and

Brookings, the U.S. military actions only accounted for ~10% of civilian deaths in

Iraq up to 2006. In reality, the organizational structure of the U.S. military greatly

influenced its adherence to preserving noncombatant immunity through safety

measures such as approved target lists, specialized weaponry, and an extensive list

of checks in order to evaluate whether or not a strike were to be carried out.


Additionally, the Law of War, or the concept of just war greatly influenced the U.S.

behavior in Iraq, which although similar to a norm, is more indoctrinated and

concrete than a norm. Through this, the U.S. had to follow the four tenets of just war,

especially distinction and proportionality.

Kahl also analyzes the culture of the U.S. military, which was known as the

annihilation restraint complex. Historically, the U.S. has emphasized overwhelming

force in order to defeat opponents, which has lead to mistakes when the U.S.

transitioned into COIN operations which involve a lot more civilians. This shift in the

U.S. narrative to combine aggressive and overwhelming force with civilian

preservation has lead not to intentional civilian targeting, but more collateral

damage than necessary. However, Kahl illustrates multiple ways that the U.S. has

responded to instances of civilian victimization, and shows how adherence to the

norm has actually increased over time. Additionally, the U.S. campaign in Iraq has

the fewest civilian deaths of any U.S. campaign in the last century, and fewer deaths

than many military campaigns conducted by other countries such as Russia in


2) What were the most promising explanations you came across in this week's
readings for variation in norm compliance? Explain.
Most compelling to me is the idea that organizational structure/culture most

strongly define variation in norm compliance. I think this is most well-structured

and laid out in the Legro article, through the table comparing norm robustness,

organization tendencies, and outcomes. In many cases, the robustness of the norm

would have indicated adherence, or the weakness of a norm would have indicated

violation. However, Legro illustrates that its largely due to the organizational

culture of a countrys military, and not norm robustness, or national regime type

that dictate whether or not a norm will be complied with.

Additionally, Morrow brings in the analysis on the role of treaties instead of norms

in regards to norm compliance. This is a bit confusing to me because in cases of joint

ratification or solo ratification, violations seem more to be violations of treaties and

not norms. What I really like about Morrows analysis is that the article goes

through multiple hypothesis as well as victim reactions to norm violation by one

side. It highlights concretely the effect of joint ratification on both democracies and

non-democracies, and statistically shows the tendency of democracies to sway

heavily to either end of the spectrum. In Morrows article, the role of being a

democracy or a non-democracy is also brought in, which I find compelling. However,

this seems to be in conflict with Legros explanation, which discounts regime type in

the case of Germany complying with CW and the U.S. violating submarine warfare. I

think ultimately, a robust explanation can integrate the two, where military

organizational culture can be somewhat influenced by the regime type, but military

culture ultimately supersedes national culture or regime type due to the things

Legro brought up (complexity, monopoly on expertise, short time frames).