Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Just War Encore

I know I keep harping about Norm, but he's worth it. He wants, literally, to justify war. Fine. I look forward to his edition of the rules of rape (not as great a non-sequiter as it sounds, some societies have in the past sanctioned rape as rape, and doubtless had rules about how it was to be crried out).

Here Norm discusses and except from Walzer's latest book here.

Walzer defends his, to my mind, unjustifiable justification of jus ad bello and jus in bello. Perhaps I need to read the whole book. But, I want to raise an example.

Imagine if I and Norm were states. We both have a substantial minority of Lenins in our territories. Turns out, I'm an evil dictator, committing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Lenins. Norm declares war on me (assuming he feels he has sufficient force to prevent me perpetrating my crimes, else he wouldn't declare war, a single failing in the theory really).

We fight a bloody war, which, against the odds, I begin winning, with the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of troops on both sides. But, and a big but, I am an insane evil dictator, and I send Norm a letter saying that were he to murder, publically, one, just one utterly innocent Lenin, picked, even, at random, I'll end the war, and stop persecuting the Lenins. I'll even hand myself over for trial, and let Normish troops guard the Lenin's. Utter victory, all he has to do is commit one atrocity. No volunteers allowed.

Yes, I know its an outlandish scenario, but it has a broad point. I return to it again, that jus in bello is fundamentally at ods with jus ad bello. A utilitaian may be able to cope with that, but any principled ethicist could not withstad the contradiction, surely.

The bottom line is that the pacifists and the realists actually agree on the nature of war, they disagree with regard to their assessment of it. Realists accept it is going to happen, pacifists try to avoid the unpleasantness. They reject it. Socialist Pacifists, to my mind, try to abolish the conditions of war, that is, to end the reality. That is, like the war justifiers, they do not accept war as found, but do not want to reform it, but abolish it.


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