Monday, December 03, 2012

Book Review: "The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza" by Eyal Weizman (2012)

The book (or at least its intent) sounds interesting, and this review even more so since it actually uses the delightful and grossly underappreciated word "defenestrated" a few paragraphs in. Anyway, here's a blurb:
For Weizman, instead of regulating or limiting violence, international humanitarian law (that is, the laws of war) actually legitimates certain manifestations of it. This is due to the utilitarian logic that pervades our thinking about violence caused by states and their agents, reasoning that sees “the sphere of morality as a set of calculations aimed to approximate the optimum proportion between common goods and necessary evils.” According to Weizman, deeming certain evils “necessary” provides the conceptual cover for further acts of cruelty. What begins as a “pragmatic compromise” between two terrible choices becomes an acceptable logic in less than exceptional circumstances. The logic of the exception is widened; the infliction of suffering is made civilized and inevitable. Weizman focuses largely on the concept of proportionality.

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