Posted on 19 April 2017.
ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is a group of radical fundamentalist anti-Western Islamists who believe that Muslims must follow strict Sharia law and forsake cultural perversions such as capitalistic greed and social liberty. A very moralistic lot, ISIS believes that human beings should be guided by a strict and literal reading of the Koran – which is to say, what they interpret it to mean. The highest calling is jihad, to do Allah’s work on earth, for which a soldier will be rewarded in heaven. Making the ultimate sacrifice of his life will yield the greatest reward. Just as in Christianity, whatever happens on this planet is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Eternity lasts forever, while life on earth is transitory. Continue Reading
Posted in War Zone, World News
Posted on 04 January 2017.
For more than fifteen years—a sizeable chunk of my adult life—I have been criticizing the just war paradigm which has undergirded calls for war by the leaders of states for centuries. My first essay on the topic was published in 2000: “The Injustice of Just Wars,” but that was only the beginning. I also published essays on “legitimate authority”, the dehumanization of soldiers in the just war framework, the “metaethical paradox” of just war theory, the incompatibility of universal human rights with just war theory, and so-called “humanitarian intervention”, which is even more hawkish than the traditional framework, insisting as it does on the necessity–rather than the permissibility–of going to war (see publications list). Continue Reading
Posted in Serious Commentary, War Zone
Posted on 14 December 2016.
Good Kill (US release 2015), directed by Andrew Niccol, offers a somewhat surprising view of what has come to be known as “modern warfare”, focusing on the plight of drone operators who spend their work days at Creech Air Force Base “taking pot shots half a world away in an air conditioned cubicle”. Heavily and obviously based on the testimony of former drone operators, the film has been criticized by some for lacking in entertainment value. Given the gravity of this disturbing development in military history, such a criticism seems somehow misplaced, but it is also understandable. Even those of us who appreciate its filmic virtues can scarcely deny that Good Kill is considerably more didactic than most action films. However, it is more professorial than preachy, offering a competent introduction to the moral issues raised by drone warfare for those who never thought about the topic before. Continue Reading
Posted in Talky Pictures, War Zone
Posted on 07 September 2016.
It took a long time for human societies to come up with the idea of universal human rights and the equality of persons under the law. Before 1215, monarchs could capriciously decree “Off with their heads!” and dispatch anyone with impunity. In the short term, leaders were the equivalent of terrestrial gods, acting with the divine right of kings, according to the received wisdom of the times. If mistakes were made, they would be dealt with in the afterlife. Continue Reading
Posted in Human Interest, Serious Commentary, War Zone