Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Larison, as usual, gets to the nub of the matter

Damile Larison on loophole seekers for Just War theory:

Of course, it is possible that applying high standards will simply cause those who wish to wage war for whatever reason to ignore the restraints of the tradition entirely, but then I thought that one of the purposes of establishing moral standards was not to accommodate the unjust in their desires. After the last six years, I would have thought that the tendency to water down these standards and thus make escalating and starting wars more morally and politically acceptable was the far greater problem that we face. We are not in danger, it seems to me, of “giving ammunition to the side of the debate that wants to do away with moral restraint in the struggle against terrorism entirely,” as these are the people who are perfectly happy to warp and distort the just war tradition (and the Constitution, international law and the basic meaning of words, among other things) to accommodate the virtual abandonment of that restraint. One could make a similar argument that opponents of the torture regime, by taking an absolute stance against torture as wrong in all cases, are giving ammunition to those who have defended and justified it as necessary, but I think Ross and I would agree that there is an obligation to oppose injustices that are carried out by the state, whether in isolated incidents or as a matter of systematic policy, that needs to be fulfilled whether or not apologists for those injustices can demagogue that opposition to their temporary advantage.

The whole thing is here:

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