One page discussion
Walzer raises serious questions about the Supreme Emergency vs. the political need for unconditional surrender. In Chapter 16 of Just and Unjust Wars, Walzer affirms a doctrine he calls Supreme Emergency and rejects a doctrine he calls the Sliding Scale. The doctrines concern the question, how to interpret the moral right of noncombatant immunity (along with the rights and duties of combatants) in just warfare doctrine. In this chapter, Walzer examines both Nazi Germany and the Japanese aggression on Pearl Harbor in this section. The question about the English trying to destroying Nazi Germany seems fairly straight forward since Hitler was trying to conquer all of Europe and instituting genocide in all acquired German lands. Yet, even with the evils of Nazism, there are questions raised by historians about “bombing German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror… The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombings.” (pg 261) The attack of Japan is not as settled, since the use of atomic weapons was so unprecedented and the destruction so immense. Walzer raises the question whether the United States’ attack on Japan was a Supreme Emergency or was it psychological, that the American people needed to show that they were strong and perhaps for the American leaders to prove their leadership to their constituency. Similar questions may be raised after 9/11 when America attacked Iraq. Was the extreme use of force needed to prevent an enemy from overthrowing the United States Government?
In a discussion, please consider the 6 Criteria for a just war found on page 176 and apply it to the bombing of Japan during WWII. Does the bombing of Japan also constitute a Supreme Emergency triggering the need to an atomic response?
Here are two contradictory reports from two respectable sources. Also use the reading from Walzer which I’ve provided.
To Bomb Link
Not to Bomb Link