How can we make moral sense of the international humanitarian law doctrine of combatant immunity? The doctrine is morally shocking to many: It holds soldiers on both sides of a war immune from criminal prosecution for their otherwise criminal acts of killing, maiming, destroying property, etc., carried out as part of their country's war effort. That is, soldiers who kill as part of an attack benefit from the immunity just as much as those defending their country. Traditionally, just war theorists have tried to provide situation‐specific arguments to show that soldiers on both sides had a good moral justification for their actions. Recently, self‐styled “revisionist just war theorists” have suggested that the doctrine of combatant immunity is just a convention designed to minimize harm. In this article, I suggest that the moral foundation of the doctrine lies in the status of soldiers as public officials in the service of their country. The reason why we hold them immune from prosecution for their war‐making acts is that such acts are properly thought of as acts of a state, rather than as acts of a particular individual. And the reason why states are immune from prosecution for their acts is one of moral standing: No other state has the moral standing to tell another how to carry out the matters that define its jurisdiction. So as long as a country deems (however implausibly) that it must use force to defend itself from aggression, then it may do what is required to defend itself. No other state has the standing to prohibit such acts or to punish those who carry them out. This argument is rooted in an understanding of how individuals may interact as free and equal under law. It does not aim at the perfection of human action, but it does serve to eliminate the worst forms of tyranny.