Monday, 10 May 2004

Reviled did I live, said I, as evil I did deliver

The atrocities in Abu Ghraib are shocking beyond belief. A Lord of the Flies-like atmosphere seems to have pervaded the jail, although whether this was caused by systemic failure (and if so, what aspect - the use of contractors? the breakdown of command?) remains an issue in flux.

I've been looking through Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars, on jus in bello, the conduct acceptable in war. One of the points of that great book is on how "following orders" cannot be a defence of inhumanity: it may mitigate a person's punishment, but it cannot set aside the fact that the person was a perpetrator of evil.

Andrew Sullivan writes a quite despondent piece on the tortures. Meanwhile, David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, on how the so-called best and brightest could lead America into Vietnam, remains a useful warning tome.




An anagram!


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