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Elshtain stretches the distinction between combatants and noncombatants to cover situations in war no longer applicable in the real world of modern weapons and modern warfare. What is the morality of fighting a force such as the Iraqi army made up mostly of conscripts who face a bullet in the back from Husseins forces or obliteration from the air by bombs from the United States? How are these human beings to be classified ? Combatants or noncombatants ? Doesn't the use of precision bombing actually make it worse for these human being ? Is slaughter a legitimate means of fighting war.
Elshtain also praises and accepts everything Bush and the Pentagon say as honest and noble. There is absolutely no consideration for the military, economic, and social conditions in the world except to say that nothing ever justifies terrorism. She moves from Camus, Augustine, and Arendt to Cluaswitz. She accepts the latter's idea that war is the continuation of diplomacy and politics by other means. Terrorists have no politics except to destroy and that is what makes it evil per se.
Elshtain says that both pacifism and realpolitics are wrong. What is needed is the way of Just War theory. I think her vision of the world is like watching children playing in a sandbox. Some children are acting like bullies. It is so easy to distinguish the good kids from the bad ones. If the world were as simple as Elshtain sees it there would be no need for theories. All that is needed would be an adult to get the bullies out of the sandbox.
What Elshtain lacks is a vision to evaluate war with a "whole new attitude", called for by the American Bishops in their 1983 document, The Challenge To Peace." This is the real burden we all need to shoulder,--- not the "Burden of American Power In A Violent World, embolden on the cover of her book Just War Against Terror. American power is part of the problem not part of the solution to a just and peaceful world.
More importantly, however, Prof. Elshtain provides a logical/moral framework, in plain, accessible language, for analyzing whether the use of force is just. She uses this framework to assess the justness of the US response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Although she ultimately determines that the US acted justly in Afghanistan, using her analytical framework does not require that you reach the same conclusions that she reached. She is not trying to channel the debate but rather broaden it by injecting honest analysis.
As the debate that began on September 11, 2001, continues, this book will become extremely important as it helps to shape that debate because of the power of its logic and honesty. READ this book. Whether you agree or disagree with its conclusions, you will find yourself better equipped to evaluate the arguments raised by all sides.
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