Followed NRT's link through to Public Address | Great New Zealand Argument and read again the transcript of Lange against nuclear weapons. It is a marvelous position to be in when you can take the moral high ground without having to stand the consequences. Put aside the better red than dead and the idea that nuclear weapons could be disinvented. It seems with 20:20 hindsight that the way nuclear weapons have been controlled by the major states has indirectly lead us to 120 democracies at the turn of the century from 43 in 1973. The threat of mutual annihilation introduces a real responsibility to those who control armies. Pakistan and India must now both step back from the brink because the consequences of nuclear exchange are too horrible to contemplate. On a purely rational basis the damage from a nuclear exchange outweighs the potential strategic benefits of a conventional invasion. Where a megalomaniac is prepared to consider the deaths of thousands or even millions of soldiers & civilians in pursuit of their ambitions it is a different matter when they themselves and their own families would be exterminated in a nuclear exchange. So paradoxically it has made the world a more peaceful place.
Lange - "And I make my case against nuclear weapons the more vigorously because I distinguish between them and all other forms of coercive or deterrent power. I've got no case to make against the policeman's truncheon. And the people tonight who have argued that you must go to the ultimate in force every time you seek to embark upon it, is of course a surrender to the worst of morality.
I accept, and do not wish to be heard arguing here against any proposition that the state must arm itself with military force to protect its citizens against aggression or to defend the weak and the helpless against aggression."
And that was the most interesting point in the current context. Notice the difference between the state defending its citizens and the weak and helpless. In his major international speech he allows that the state may defend the helpless against aggression, even though they may be in another country. Who would disagree that is not what GW outlined in his 2003 speech. He set America on the path to defending the weak and helpless from aggression by bring democracy to those countries lacking. The world is fortunate that the hyper power is a natural isolationist that has stayed long enough to establish democracies in countries that have embarked on aggression.
We need to hold the powers to account when natural justice is abused, as with Abu Ghraib and the Israeli group punishments of Palestinian civilians. But we must also differentiate between the unintended consequences of a policy that will benefit the greater good in the long term, and deliberate targeting of the helpless. Cadets choosing to join an army must expect more robust treatment than a nursing student. Jihadis should expect no quarter if their actions show they give none.
Lange was wrong in 1985 about nuclear weapons but he understood the obligation to use power for the benefit of the weak and helpless. Surely the average citizen of Darfur, Iraq and Afghanistan would meet those definitions?