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Or is it the case that if a nation considers some non-state group to be a threat to its security, international law only permits the host state of that group to undertake hostile measures against that group?

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International law consists of treaties binding the signatories and customary norms which are seen as so established that they bind every nation.

  • There are long precedents for attacks on pirate ports, and on the coastal defenses of states harboring pirates. They go back centuries.
  • When a state will not (or cannot) restrain their citizens from attacking across a border, that may be considered an act of war by that "failed" state.
  • When a state makes good faith efforts to prosecute criminals on their soil, letting them handle it themselves is usually seen as better than going to war.
  • The 'hot pursuit' of criminals across international borders may be allowed (without becoming an act of war by the pursuer).
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  • Taking Somalia as an example, everybody polices the sea, but nobody steps foot into Somalia but to repell boarder Raids. But then again, the Warlords in Somalia make damned sure not to attack neighboring countries for they don't want to open another front.
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 13 at 10:19
  • @Trish, international forces had been in Somalia a generation ago. They found that the cost-benefit analysis did not favor them.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 13 at 16:33
  • The killing of Osama Bin Laden by US forces in Pakistan is an interesting case in point.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 13 at 22:00

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