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1+Walzer+terrorism+copy - Philosophia(2006 34:312 DOI...

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Terrorism and Just War Michael Walzer Published online: 4 August 2006 # Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006 I I will begin by arguing that just war theory helps us understand the wrongfulness of terrorism, and then I will do two things with this argument first, consider the choice of terror as a political strategy, and then worry about some of the problems of combating it. What can go wrong in the war against terrorism, and is just war theory equally helpful in thinking about this war ’– where the scare quotes are always necessary? Terrorism is the random killing of innocent people, in the hope of creating pervasive fear. The fear can serve many different political purposes, none of which, as I will argue later on, need figure in the definition (it s easy to imagine a terrorist organization, as it might be portrayed by Franz Kafka, say, that has no purpose at all). Randomness and innocence are the crucial elements in the definition. The critique of this kind of killing hangs especially on the idea of innocence, which is borrowed from just war theory and often misunderstood. Innocence functions in the theory as a term of art; it describes the group of noncombatants, civilians, men and women who are not materially engaged in the war effort. These people are innocent whatever their government and country are doing and whether or not they are in favor of what is being done. The opposite of innocent is not guilty, but engaged. Disengaged civilians are innocent without regard to their personal morality or politics. But why are all civilians immune from attack, while soldiers are collectively at risk? According to the rules of jus in bello , once the fighting has begun, it is entirely legitimate to kill soldiers at random, as they come within range, so to speak, and it is legitimate to try to terrorize the ones who never come within range. And yet, a lot of soldiers are not actual combatants; they serve behind the lines; they are involved in transportation, the provision of food, the storing of supplies; they work in offices; they rarely carry weapons. And no soldiers are always combatants; they rest and play, eat and sleep, read newspapers, write letters. Some of them are in the army by choice, but some of them are there unwillingly; if Philosophia (2006) 34:3 12 DOI 10.1007/s11406-006-9004-1 M. Walzer ( * ) School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA e-mail: [email protected]
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they had been given a choice, they would be doing something else. How can they all be subject to attack simply because they bear the name, and wear the uniform, of a soldier? Why doesn
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