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Moral Principle vs. Military Necessity

posted on May 31, 2012

For the week of Memorial Day, The American Scholar re-releases a 2008 essay from David Bosco, which explores, “America’s first code regulating the conduct of its army in warfare.” Bosco delves into the issues around the code, called “Lieber’s Code” after the Prussian immigrant who wrote it during the American Civil War. He writes that at “the heart of Lieber’s view of how war should be fought was the distinction between combatants and civilians and the conviction that civilian life and property should be spared whenever possible,” a view that can be traced back to the just war doctrine developed by St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. 

Read at The American Scholar