Friday, August 22, 2008

“Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense

Excerpt quoted from “Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense
by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein

To conjure up the emotions we felt on 9/11, many intellectuals claim, is dangerous, because it promotes the “simplistic” desire for revenge and casts aside the “complexity” of the factors that led to the 9/11 attacks. But, in fact, the desire for overwhelming retaliation most Americans felt after 9/11—and feel rarely, if ever, now—was the result of an objective conviction: that a truly monstrous evil had been perpetrated, and that if the enemies responsible for the 9/11 attacks were not dealt with decisively, we would suffer the same fate (or worse) again.

Read the whole thing at

AND (and this is a BIG and!)

Consider the following passage from the book Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer:

A soldier must take careful aim at his military target and away from nonmilitary targets. He can only shoot if he has a reasonably clear shot; he can only attack if a direct attack is possible . . . he cannot kill civilians simply because he finds them between himself and his enemies. . . . Simply not to intend the deaths of civilians is too easy. . . . What we look for . . . is some sign of a positive commitment to save civilian lives. . . . if saving civilian lives means risking soldiers' lives the risk must be accepted.4

Walzer's prescriptions are not the idle musings of an ivory tower philosopher; they are exactly the sort of “rules of engagement” under which U.S. soldiers are fighting—and dying—overseas. When our marines in Baghdad do not shoot back when fired upon from a mosque, or when our helicopter pilots are shot down while flying too low in an attempt to avoid civilian casualties while in pursuit of their targets, they are following the dictum that we should show a “positive commitment to save civilian lives” even if this entails “risking soldiers' lives.”

Just and Unjust Wars serves as the major textbook in the ethics classes taught at West Point and dozens of others colleges and military schools. More broadly, Just War Theory—for which Just and Unjust Wars is the most popular modern text—is the sole moral theory of war taught today.

Just War Theory is conventionally advocated in contrast to two other views of the morality of war: pacifism and “realism.” Pacifism holds that the use of military force is never moral. Just War theorists correctly criticize this view on the grounds that evil aggressors exist who seek to kill and dominate the innocent, and that force is often the only effective way to stop them. War, they hold, is therefore sometimes morally necessary.

“Realism” is the view that war has no moral limitations. Just War Theory rejects this theory as well, holding that war, when necessary, must be conducted in accordance with strict moral principles. . . .
More, Much More, at

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