On targeting non-combatants in war

In answer to this question from a reader:

In precisely what way does rights theory imply the moral necessity to target non-combatants in war?

Craig Biddle explains at Principles in Practice, the blog of The Objective Standard, where he is editor, how the right to self-defense against aggression is contextual and what this means regarding the targeting of “non-combatants” in war – and, guess what, we’re in one:

This question assumes that a proper theory of rights implies the moral necessity of targeting non-combatants in war, but this is not necessarily so. It depends on the context. Objective rights theory, that is: rational egoism applied to the requirements of human coexistence, implies the moral necessity of protecting oneself and one’s rational interests from aggressors by whatever means necessary. In the context of a war, this means that the nation against which force has been initiated morally must use whatever retaliatory force is necessary to eliminate the aggressor as quickly and efficiently as possible with as little risk to the lives of its own citizens as possible. If targeting non-combatants is required to achieve that end, as it was in World War II, and as it is in the war against Islamism, then egoism demands it.

He concludes with this:

If we were to engage in a massive aerial bombing of Iranian military assets, Iranian government buildings, Iranian mosques and madrassahs (colleges in which students are trained to be Islamists), and the residencies of Iranian leaders, government officials, mullahs, imams, and teachers, and then explain to the world that, from now on, this is how America will respond to any and all threats to her citizens or allies, adherence to Islamism would suddenly lose its appeal worldwide. Muslims across the globe would either lose their religion altogether or opt for a watered-down, unserious version of it, as today’s Christians and Jews have done with their equally barbaric creeds.

The entire read can be found at Principles in Practice: Reply to a Question about Targeting Non-Combatants in War.

I hope I’ve given you enough enticement to read this in full.

It’s crucial to understand in this current war (and make no mistake, it is a war) against Islamic Totalitarianism, exactly what the root philosophical motives of the Islamists are; and it’s vitally important to understand what the morally proper response to these aggressors is.

Otherwise, we’ll all be facing East and praying five times a day… or dead.

It will take more than appeasement – interspersed with limited, halting, uncertain military actions – to defeat the Jihadists… it will take a moral certainty that can only come from a rational, pro-life, philosophy.

During the Cold War, Ayn’s Rand’s response to the often used expression, “Better Red (meaning communist) than dead” was, “Better to see the Reds dead”.

She was ‘right’, all the way to the root – as we’ll have to be ‘right’ – to defeat what’s afoot here.


Report This Post

2 thoughts on “On targeting non-combatants in war

  1. Dan

    This comment was emailed to me in response to this post by Rodney.
    Note – I’ve edited a little for spelling and punctuation only.

    A lot to think about. Everyone has what they think is the correct way to proceed. Let’s keep it really simple. They are the aggressors, we have finally responded! GREAT! Do something & do it now! Quit all the IFs–ifs——————————-. Can’t we win a war any more? Afraid of doing the wrong thing? Better to think of winning the war – whatever it takes. Let me say it again. WHAT EVER IT TAKES! This may be too simple but what is everyone else doing. MAKING it way too complex.


    Report This Comment

  2. Dan

    I couldn’t agree more with Rodney’s comment. What anyone thinks(?) is the right way to proceed only amounts to OPINION, if not backed up by the fullest rational objectivity. The FACT that they (the Islamist, Jihadist Totalitarians) are aggressors from state sponsors of terrorism, TOTALITARIAN STATES that not onlyÂthreaten our lives and freedom, but violate the rights and lives of their own citizens. A dictator (theocratic or not)Âand all under his regime not actively opposing him, haveÂNO RIGHTS, no protection – not even under the Geneva Convention (which is ridiculous in it’s very conception), regardless of what Senator John McCain, ET. AL.,Âthink.ÂThey deserve whatever befalls them. We should use all force necessary to dispose of these threats -Âto crush the enemies’ will to fight -Âas quickly as possible and to protect the lives of OUR soldiers. This includes, but is not limited to Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia. We should not rule out the use of Nuclear arms as, and if,Ânecessary to accomplish these ends.

    And, yes, DO IT NOW!ÂNothing else said is of much value – just empty opinion.

    Report This Comment

Comments are closed.