by Anand Gopal published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
Since the ancient Romans, we have considered there...Show description
Posted 771 days ago
Gopal is becoming one of my favorite writers these days. He also published a fantastic, more academic piece in Catalyst called The Arab Thermidor. I'd recommend giving it a read if you have a decent amount of time on your hand and you liked Clean Hands.
Posted 882 days ago
I thought this article was very well written. Gopal blends an analysis of Renic's new book, history, and his own experiences covering the Syrian War. It's nice how it traces the changes of morals over the years and the codes of conduct that surrounded important wars in our history. Especially telling of how things have evolved is the idea of "military necessity," which was used in WWII by the "U.S. and British Air Forces of Operation Gomorrah" which "rained down fire and steel upon Hamburg for seven nights, killing fifty-eight thousand civilians."
When we compare numbers in Syria to those, they are dwarfed in comparison. But that is what Gopal is trying to get us to consider; WWII was a matter of freedom or tyranny in Europe, and we now look back on it and consider almost any action to stop the advance of the Axis powers as justified. But when we look at Syria, there is not even close to the same public support or even general knowledge about the morales of the war. So when even one civilian is killed by "unintentional" side-effects, how can we consider that as justified? I think that we simply aren't aware as a populace any longer due to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allows Presidents have "invoked to justify at least thirty-seven military activities in fourteen countries, including the U.S. war in Syria, without formal declaration or public debate."