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Ought to we wrestle terrorism with terror, match assassination with assassination, and torture with torture? Ought to we sacrifice civil liberty to protect public safety?
Inside the age of terrorism, the temptations of ruthlessness could be overwhelming. Nevertheless we’re pulled in the other path too by the nervousness that a violent response to violence makes us morally indistinguishable from our enemies. There’s perhaps no bigger political drawback in the intervening time than making an try and win the wrestle in the direction of terror with out dropping our democratic souls. Michael Ignatieff confronts this drawback head-on, with the combination of arduous-headed idealism, historic sensitivity, and political judgment that has made him one of in all probability probably the most influential voices in worldwide affairs at this time.
Ignatieff argues that we should always not shrink from the use of violence–that faraway from undermining liberal democracy, drive could also be wanted for its survival. Nevertheless its use should be measured, not a program of torture and revenge. And we should always not fool ourselves that regardless of we do in the determine of freedom and democracy is nice. We’d need to kill to battle the upper evil of terrorism, nevertheless we should not ever pretend that doing so is one thing larger than a lesser evil.
In making this case, Ignatieff traces the trendy historic previous of terrorism and counter-terrorism, from the nihilists of Czarist Russia and the militias of Weimar Germany to the IRA and the unprecedented menace of Al Qaeda, with its suicidal brokers bent on mass destruction. He reveals how in all probability probably the most potent response to terror has been strain, decisive and direct, nevertheless–merely as mandatory–restrained. The public scrutiny and political ethics that encourage restraint moreover give democracy its strongest weapon: the moral power to endure when the furies of vengeance and hatred are spent.
The book is based on the Gifford Lectures delivered on the School of Edinburgh in 2003.
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