In his preamble to Just and Unjust Wars, Professor Walzer enumerates five central issues:
- “What is the value of sovereignty and territorial integrity to the men and women who live with a particular state's territory?
- “How much killing is 'systematic killing'?
- “If a war is justified, who should fight it?
- “If a state or group of states (or the United Nations decides to intervene how should the intervention be conducted?
- “In planning and conducting the intervention, what kind of peace should the invading forces seek?”
Idiot's Guide to Arguing
Before we begin, I think that it would be instructive to look at his basic premise. Walzer tells us, “I want to account for the ways in which men and women who are not lawyers but simply citizens (and sometimes soldiers) argue about war, and to expound the terms we commonly use.” This is a most ambitious goal. Despite the fact that I debated in college and was trained in the art of legal arguments, I have had little success arguing with anyone throughout my 68 years.
Also, I can't wait to see how the professor intends to expound on the terms we commonly use in arguing about war. However, I must admit to a certain admiration for Professor Walzer's strategy. After all, he who defines the terms controls the debate.
Ex Post Facto
For me, Professor Walzer's most illuminating premise is when he talks of crimes, he is “describing violations of general principles or of the particular code: so men and women can be called criminals even when they cannot be charged before a legal tribunal.” That explains why Vietnam veterans were treated as criminals even though they had not committed any crime, why we were prisoners in our own homes and communities, why we were excoriated and assaulted relentlessly. I believed for many years that we were all being tarred with the same brush wielded against those who actually committed actionable crimes in the combat theater. Now I learn from Professor Walzer that we were guilty of acts that the peaceniks felt ought to be crimes. They felt that we ought to be punished and they were more than happy to provide the punishment. Their judgment went beyond the principle that a person could not be charged with a crime ex post facto – one that was declared criminal after the act was committed. They felt we could be charged with a crime even though the act was criminal in their opinion only.
Let me state emphatically that I would fight to the death to defend Professor Walzer's right to his opinions. I may even agree with him on many points – as may yet be seen in succeeding postings on this subject. However, I vehemently oppose anyone's right to inflict their opinions upon another as the peace activists of that era assailed us.
This should be interesting...