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the morality of 'just' war

>It can be expected the United States will respond forcefully-and
>rightfully so, as no nation can suffer an attack of this nature and not
>be expected to respond. Retaliation is a component of Just War, and
>self-defense is morally permitted.
>[...]I do know these dogs of war will be relentless and cause bloody

I understand our army officer friend to mean by this that the murder of
innocent civilians in New York by Middle Eastern terrorists morally
justifies a retaliation by the US in which, by his own admission, innocent
Afghan civilians will die. As an army officer, the reality of 'surgical'
strikes and ground wars must be apparent to him.

My question is this.

If the bombing of Afghanistan goes ahead, do you therefore expect the
relatives of these innocent Afghan civilians, killed by American bombs, to
state that 'we understand your anger, America, you have a moral right to
bomb our country and murder our families'? If this sounds preposterous to
you, do you therefore believe that the murder of innocent Afghans by US
bombs would in turn morally justify a retaliation by Afghans in which
innocent US civilians died?

This, as I see it, is the so-called 'morality' behind 'just' war. Its
result is a vicious cycle of renewed hatred, violence and death.

The attacks on Tuesday shocked and revolted me more than I can put into
words. I do not see, however, that I am an apologist for terrorism if I
state my belief that irrational, murderous, burning hatred was one
'motivation' behind the attacks, and that twisted 'revenge' for what they
perceived as US foreign policy atrocities was another. Hatred and the
desire for revenge are despicable emotions; we are clear on this.

Given this, I do not, under any circumstances, 'understand' the
provocation to kill thousands of innocents. It can, as you say, never be
justified. This applies whether the innocents be New Yorkers or Afghans.


Abi Cox
Clare College

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