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NPR on just war and the lash of fear policy

Heard this essay read by the author on NPR a couple of days ago. It's stuck with me so I looked up the text and am sharing snippets along with a link to the full text.

The Costs of Fear
By MARK HANSON

September 11, 2001, is often called the Pearl Harbor of our generation. Like our response to Pearl Harbor, we rallied ourselves to face a dangerous enemy. Unlike Pearl Harbor, we suffered a blow targeting innocent civilians, designed to elicit fear. And fear is a dangerous thing.

While remembrance of the victims is our primary task for today, we do them no dishonor by also reflecting on some of the moral costs of the fear that day inspired and the lessons we might still learn...

First, fear makes us vulnerable to those who would manipulate us into support for their political and personal agendas, for good or ill....

A second cost of fear is its capacity to tempt us to simplify our value systems and world views. When we are afraid, we are more highly motivated to secure ourselves. Such a response is protective, but it comes with this tendency to reduce our moral universe to the primary value of security....

A third cost of fear is the tendency to elevate the values of retribution and self-defense over self-sacrifice. We become willing to pay any cost of punishing the guilty and arming ourselves to the teeth, rather than risk vulnerability. This response may have become the American tradition, but it’s not the moral tradition of the West. A central tenet of the just war doctrine—an established way to evaluate the morality of warfare with deep roots in the Christian tradition—is that even with a just cause, we must be willing to suffer harm to avoid greater harm to innocent others....

Read the essay at: http://kufm.org/post/costs-fear



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