Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Acts of War

(A response to someone on the preconditions of war.)

I don't disagree with you in terms of the "practical" way to wage a war, but I think the point you are trying to make, and not succeeding, is that rights themselves exist in a context.

You framed it instead as the *protection* of rights exist in a context, which, while true, misses the more fundamental issue of *how* rights get defined in a political context.

Rights are preconditions of human survival, yes. But I don't think it's correct to say rights may properly be "violated" per se by government during wartime.

Rather, the unnatural emergency condition of war restricts the scope of what rights themselves are. This is why it is so necessary to have a declaration of war, so that the restriction of scope is delimited to the duration of the war. I always thought the most fatal mistake Bush made after 9/11 was his failure to declare war.

Now we are seeing those roosting chickens -- not only in the protracted debates about the intrusions of the "Patriot Act", which legitimately are concerned with the permanent erosion of peacetime rights in lieu of a declaration -- but in Bush's inability to wage war as it needs to be waged -- aggressively.