Ignatieff

By Bryan • canada, military, politics • 21 Oct 2004

I know this topic has been beat to death, but I love this guy.

“When democracies fight terrorism, they are defending the proposition that their political life should be free of violence. But defeating terror requires violence. It may also require coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights. How can democracies resort to these means without destroying the values for which they stand? How can they resort to the lesser evil without succumbing to the greater?

But thinking about lesser evils is unavoidable. Sticking too firmly to the rule of law simply allows terrorists too much leeway to exploit our freedoms. Abandoning the rule of law altogether betrays our most valued institutions. To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil. The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions. If we can’t, any victories we gain in the war on terror will be Pyrrhic ones.

Regulating a war on terror with ethical rules and democratic oversight is much harder than regulating traditional wars. In traditional wars, there are rules, codes of warriors’ honor that are supposed to limit the barbarity of the conflict, to protect civilians from targeting, to keep the use of force proportional and to keep it confined to military objectives. The difference between us and terrorists is supposed to be that we play by these rules, even if they don’t. No, I haven’t forgotten Hiroshima and My Lai. The American way of war has often been brutal, but at least our warriors are supposed to fight with honor and can be punished if they don’t. There is no warrior’s honor among terrorists.”

His rationality and reason are amazing. Read the whole thing, dammit!.

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