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The Fetish of National Security: How America's Worst Crimes Are Perpetrated and Excused

The creed of national security lets governments justify all sorts of crimes against humanity.

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But when non-state actors argue that they are resorting to terrorism as a last resort, Walzer suspects them of bad faith. For such individuals, “it is not so easy to reach the ‘last resort.’” To get there, one must indeed try everything (which is a lot of things) and not just once. Even “under conditions of oppression and war,” he insists, “it is by no means clear when” the oppressed or their spokespersons have truly “run out of options.” Walzer acknowledges that a similar argument might be applied to government officials, but the officials he has in mind are those who “kill hostages or bomb peasant villages”—not those who claim they must go to war. Thus, Walzer entertains the possibility that governments, with all their power, may find themselves racing against time, while insisting that terrorists, and the people they claim to represent, invariably will have all the time in the world.

To be continued…

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