Friday, February 6, 2009

Asa Kasher on Morality at War

If there's any single person who influences the moral code of the IDF above all others, it's philosophy professor Asa Kasher. Haaretz has an interview with him about the Gaza operation. Being limited to the format of the newspaper, it's not very satisfying, but I'm linking for future use.


Felipe said...

Demand The Human Rights is not enough, we must exercise them every day.

Lexo said...

I read this article. Kasher's "arguments" in defence of killing civilians strike me as at best incoherent and at worst criminal.

Anonymous said...

I read this article and - after imagining How I might want to behave - I decided I like Kasher's completely unromantic way of thinking about the problem
- He sure is a guy worth listening to and I sincerely hope "my" iTunesPodcasts will soon supply me with a lecture by him expanding his down to the practicalities of real lfe attitude
rgds, Silke

Anonymous said...

Lexo, what did strike you as potentially "criminal" in Kasher's argument?

(I can easily share the impression of incoherence (though I would not be sure that the journalist's or the editor's processing skills were uninvolved). Also, I do not regard the 'We did not, but the others are not any better' line as a valid argument. To prioritise the own soldier's lifes over those of civilians who let terrorists act out of their midst however looks quite reasonable to me. After all, it is Israel's duty is to protect it's own populace. Protecting the Gazans would be Hamas' job, as they are the ones in charge there. Unfortunately, Hamas and the miscellaneous "brigades" chose not only to bring war among the Gazan populace, but also to hide behind their relatives, friends and neighbours.)


dnako said...


Let me comment, and then afterwards let me ask a question.

Once a person or a group, sanctified by some immoral belief, crosses the invisible boundary to wreak wanton violence, then of itself that person or group rejects its common basis in humanity.

What differentiates terror from war is not easy to define, and in our lifetime the world has undoubtedly seen and experienced more war that is terror than it has seen and experienced war that is war. War and terror are brutality, and I would say that war has a goal for which brutality is the method to achieve it, while terror commits brutality merely for the sake of brutality. My explanation touches the simplistic, but my reasoning is to isolate 'terror' from 'war'.

Whatever its target, the victim of war is inevitably humanity, while the target of terror is always humanity. The last century has seen the slide from' war as war' to 'war as terror', and the consequences have been that war becomes a 'cover' for terror and that war degenerated into terror as terror.

When war takes place between sovereign nations, ostensibly there are checks and balances that limit brutality (?!) Guerilla warfare and insurgencies are the transition between 'conventional warfare' and between 'terror as terror'. On the one hand there is sufficient military framework to support outright military actions; on the other there is insufficient military framework to achieve outright military success. The result is anarchy and [unarmed] civilians become the focus of butchery and barbarism, e.g Africa.

Terror lacks - and perhaps doesn't even seek - a military framework that allows it to effectively take military action. Instead, it uses destructiveness in a non-military setting against a totally civilian population, where the destructiveness of its actions are of such limited scope as to belie the possibility of its attaining its goals. It acts knowing it can't conquer; only terrorize.

Having said this, clearly Asa Kasher's predicament is that of fighting terror without wounding or killing civilians, a position that you yourself must support.

My question is this. Why don't you have a substantial solution of how legitimate governments and sovereign nations can fight terror effectively?

Your argument with Asa Kasher shouldn't be against his fighting terror, which you seem to be opposed to!? Your argument should be one of how to fight terror, for which you offer no solution.


Anonymous said...

Is Kasher's article available online?