Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quote of the day

From Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1977), p.174:
"A soldier must take careful aim at his military target and away from nonmilitary targets. He can only shoot if he has a reasonably clear shot; he can only attack if a direct attack is possible. He can risk incidental deaths, but he cannot kill civilians simply because he finds them between himself and his enemies. [Footnote]

[Walzer's footnote]: It remains true, however, that the issue of 'interposition' or coercion has to be resolved first. Consider an example from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870: during the siege of Paris, the French used irregular forces behind enemy lines to attack trains carrying military supplies to the German army. The Germans responded by placing civilian hostages on the trains. Now it was no longer possible to get a 'clear shot' at what was still a legitimate military target. But the civilians on the trains were not in their normal place; they had been radically coerced; and responsibility for their deaths, even if these deaths were actually inflicted by the French, lay with the German commanders. On this point, see Robert Nozick's discussion of 'innocent shields of threats' in Anarchy, State and Utopia, p.35."

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