At an old bookshop that I frequently visit, I recently found a book titled Vidal in Venice, a glossy coffee-table hardback about the history, architecture and culture of Venice, illustrated with superb artwork and photography. The book was a companion edition to a series of documentaries Gore Vidal wrote and presented in 1985 for Channel 4 about the city he calls ‘perhaps the most beautiful cliche on earth.’ Thanks to the wonders of youtube, today I was able to find it and here it is in its entirety.
War is hell, war is pain and sorrow–unless of course it’s a Just War which is noble, heroic, every true Christian’s blessed jihad, and if you can swing it, fully authorized by the UN Security Council. Even if Just Wars both ancient (say, the Albigensian crusade) and modern (the starvation of thousands of Iraqis by UN Security Council-authorized sanctions) have been unspeakably nasty, Just Wars are still at least Just, so what’s not to like?
There are two ways to make your war a Just War, with all the fringe benefits. Please read carefully.
First, convince the world that the war is just by invoking the UN Charter and getting Security Council authorization. The law involved is less straightforward than the Scholastic neo-Aristotelianism that used to justify Just Wars, so you’ll be wanting to hire some lawyers. Less intelligent presidents will put angry anti-diplomats like John Bolton on the task, but cannier ones will hire smoother jurists like Harold Koh and Samantha Power to make the case in the dulcet tones of humanitarian NGOese. This is the preferred way of making a war Just nowadays, most likely a matter of supply and demand, as there’s no shortage of secular casuists graduating from the top law schools, and the US Department of Defense has 15,000 lawyers on hand.
The second way to make your war a Just War is to get the Pope to declare it so, or at least not denounce it as an unjust war. This may sound self-consciously retro, but new WikiLeaks disclosures reveal that it has never truly gone out of style. The story Continue reading “Want to make your war a “Just War”? A quick how-to, with help from WikiLeaks.”
by Kathy Kelly and Josh Brollier
June 1, 2010
For six days in late May, 2010, Emergency, an Italian NGO providing surgery and basic health care in Afghanistan since 1999, welcomed us to visit facilities they operate in the capital city of Kabul and in Panjshir, a neighboring province. We lived with their hospital staff at both places and accompanied them in their weekly trips to various FAPs (First Aid Posts) which the hospitals maintain in small outlying villages.
One morning, accompanying a field officer from the Kabul hospital, we pulled off of the main road and traveled over unpaved lanes, then walked a short distance to a shady grove outside a small Afghan village. Villagers, eager to welcome Emergency’s staff and drivers, served ripe mulberries and a salty cucumber yogurt drink. We sat in a circle, shaded by the trees. When breezes stirred the branches, we’d enjoy a momentary rain of mulberries, much to the amusement of little children nearby.
by Huma Dar
The police, in the northern Italian town of Novara, fined a 26-year-old Tunisian woman for wearing a black niqab; she was going to a mosque for the Friday prayers. According to the New York Times she was fined about $650 under a regulation introduced in January 2010. Apparently, Novara — a bastion of the xenophobic Northern League — “bans clothing in public that prevents identification by the police.”