Putting War on Trial

January 25, 2009

This seems to me the way things should work, if we’re going to try to govern war with the same type of system we govern most of society: a nation accused, even unofficially, prepares to make its case.  I do think we’re moving toward a point where all military actions are going to require participant nations to prepare such defenses, though, and I don’t know that this is a good thing for the strength of the system.  Still, it is reassuring to see a nation saying that if it is signatory to certain international laws, it will accept that it needs to defend its actions within those laws.

Count me skeptical, however, as to whether this is a viable solution, in the long-term — that is, if its end-goal is to constrain war to certain just/legal limits.  There’s a danger in thinking that war can be held in check by paper documents, international tribunals, and high-minded sentiments: that we might someday think we have effectively neutered war, or feel toward it the way Roy did toward that tiger — it ain’t ever gonna be truly tamed.  And once we start treating it like it can be, or it has been, then we may find it more dangerous than before.

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