Michael Walzer Supreme Emergency

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WALZER ON SUPREME EMERGENCY Michael Walzer, otherwise a strict adherent to the satisfaction of just in bello conditions in war, especially to the condition of non-combatant immunity, argues that in supreme emergencies, a state actor can infringe upon this principle and directly target enemy civilians’ (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009). What is a supreme emergency? According to Michael Walzer it is: ‘… an ultimate threat to everything decent in our lives, an ideology and a practice of domination so murderous, so degrading even to those who might survive, that the consequences of its final victory were literally beyond calculation, immeasurably awful.’ (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009)Hence, a supreme emergency is an exceptional and threatening situation that collectives…show more content…
Furthermore, ‘a supreme emergency exists when our deepest values and our collective survival are in imminent danger (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009).Walzer holds that Great Britain was facing such a supreme emergency during a certain period of World War II when it was under attack from Nazi Germany, which constituted an ‘evil objectified in the world’’ (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009). Walzer holds that, at least in the first years of the war while Germany was undefeated, the situation was a supreme emergency because a German victory would have constituted an ultimate threat to Britain. However, Walzer claims that after it became clear that Germany could no longer win the war, there no longer was a supreme emergency (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009).In a supreme emergency situation, it is morally permissible to directly and intentionally target and kill innocents, or non-combatants’ (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009). In Walzer’s example, it was justified to bomb residential areas of German cities, thus directly targeting the civilian population’ (SCHWENKENBECHER 2009). He nevertheless insists that although the prohibition against killing innocents is overridden by more important considerations, it is not being suspended: ‘There are limits on the conduct of war, and there are moments when we can and perhaps should break through the limits (the limits themselves never

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