I’m always looking for practical applications of philosophy, and when an illegal war to prolong an illegal occupation broke out across the water a few weeks back, I started re-reading Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars so that I might have a better framework to back up words like “illegal” and “massacre” and “a pretty clear pattern here, folks.”
I’ll touch on the Balfour Declaration and everything that came after in a few weeks or whenever I get through the book, but for now I’ll be typing up stuff that strikes me as I read. Right now, I’ve got a bit of a policy suggestion.
Walzer’s book is about just war theory and the war convention, the ways in which we judge the initiation of and conduct within wars.
Walzer refers to existing international law at times, but he’s up front in pointing out that iLaw as it stands is an incomplete tapestry, one that lacks coherence and sovereign enforcement. His argument, he says, is about moral law, the kind worked out by philosophers for millennia.
All of this is to say that sometimes Walzer begins what seems like a tangent into philosophical wordplay in order to illustrate a point of ‘moral law’ or a moral imperative. It was during one of those apparent digressions that I started thinking about this post.