A Celebration of 35 Years of Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars

I am privileged this week to be in attendance at a marvelous conference at NYU celebrating the 35th anniversary of Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars, with Professor Walzer himself in attendance, and a host of luminaries among moral philosophy, law, and other fields.  I don’t really have internet access at the conference, and the papers are all in preliminary form, but if you want to know much of my thinking about Just and Unjust Wars, I have many posts on the subject – many of them trying to tease out exactly what kind of theory I think Walzer offers, set against the range of ethics of war positions, over at my now-abandoned, archival blog.  (Search the Walzer posts.) I think I will do a series of Walzer related posts here, if I can get internet access, drawing on the conference and my earlier blog posts.  Kudos to Joseph Weiler, Gabby Blum, and Ian Scobbie for pulling this marvelous conference together.

I do have a paper at this conference – on drones, but not really on the law of targeted killing and drone warfare.  (Yale’s Paul Kahn is kind enough to serve as commentator on Wednesday.)  Tentatively titled, “Every death a targeted killing,” it aims to ask, speculatively, what effects a fully realized technological and legal and moral regime of targeted killing using drones would look like.  What would be the features of such a condition for conflict?  It does not attempt to address this for all conflicts – but suggests that, in the special case of counterterrorism, it enables the growth of an “intelligence-driven” form of conflict that individuates every killing, rather than targeting an undifferentiated mass of combatants.  If one takes that from a moral standpoint, targeted killing has the same proportionality rules as any other weapon, then it pays exactly the same heed to non-combatants; by contrast, it pays far more attention to the status and role of combatants.  The paper is in early draft form, in any case, so will get revised before I even post a working draft to SSRN.