Friday, September 2, 2016

Things Fall Together

From 'The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience" by Michael Ignatieff:

"Warrior's honor implied an idea of war as a moral theater in which one displayed one's manly virtues in public. To fight with honor was to fight without fear, without hesitation, and, by implication, without duplicity. The codes acknowledged the moral paradox of combat: that those who fight each other bravely will be bound together in mutual respect; and that if they perish at each other's hand they will be brothers in death.

"Warrior's honor was both a code of belonging and an ethic of responsibility. Wherever the art of war was practiced, warriors distinguished between combatants and noncombatants, legitimate and illegitimate targets, moral and immoral weaponry, civilized and barbarous usage in the treatment of prisoners and of the wounded..."

However: "Warrior codes were sharply particularist: that is, they applied only to certain people, not to others. The protections afforded by the chivalric code applied only to Christians. Toward infidels, a warrior could behave without restraint."

And then: "In the 1990's, most of the fighting is done by irregulars - the casualties of collapsing societies - or by paramilitary gangs that combine banditry with soldiery. As war passes out of the hands of the state into those of warlords, the rituals of restraint associated with the profession of arms also disintegrate."

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