Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 15:25 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 15:25 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: The Dubai episode


Sam Roggeveen


1 March 2010 13:25

Scott Burchill replies to my thoughts on the Dubai assassination episode:

It's good to see a conservative which such a flexible and phlegmatic attitude to the rule of law, due process and transnational violence. Just designate someone a terrorist (don't bother with the messy ethics of illegal occupation or legitimate resistance), and kill them. What's the fuss, as Sharon would say if he was awake? You had better warn Kissinger that he's now a legitimate target for assassination by Chileans, Vietnamese, Cambodians and many others. Ditto for Clinton, both Bush's, etc. Is this how conservatives hope to bring order and stability to the world?

I gather from your comparison that you are not opposed to Australians killing Afghans in their country, but that you don't think we can kill enough of them to win — hence your belated opposition to the war?

Scott's last line actually gets reasonably close to my position. In the absence of practical alternatives for bringing terrorists to justice in an anarchical world, I can see no strong moral objection to the use of military force against those who have committed acts of terrorism, or those who are about to. 

But there are severe practical constraints to such a course, which is indeed why I am a critic of the Afghanistan war. It's not really a case of being unable to 'kill enough of them', but rather the difficulty of ever finding them, or of being able to distinguish them from the innocent.

I don't think the Afghanistan war is unjust in its motivation; rather, I think its unwinnable, and that the victory prize isn't worth the effort anyway.