December 11th, 2009
03:29 PM ET

Around the Web: Afghanistan and the “just war” theory

During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on Thursday, President Obama said that war is sometimes “just,” and cited the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan as one such example.

“Obama wanted to remind people, including those in his own party here in the U.S., that the Afghanistan war has a morally legitimate basis and that there are occasions in history where force is necessary,” Fareed Zakaria said about the speech.

Yet, Zakaria warned, defending the war on moral grounds has some pitfalls.

“The great danger of moral certitude is that you get distracted from the practical issue of whether things are working. Are we creating a stable government? Are we being successful against the Taliban and al Qaeda?” he said. “From Woodrow Wilson to Vietnam, the question of whether a military action is morally legitimate can overshadow whether it works.” 

Some other reaction to Obama’s speech in Oslo, Norway: Robert Mackey (The New York Times);  James Fallows (The Atlantic); Thomas Ricks (Foreign Policy); Richard N. Haass (Huffington Post); Abe Greenwald (National Review); Kathleen Parker (The Washington Post); Michael Crowley (The New Republic); Steven Hurst (Associated Press); Howard Fineman (Newsweek).

The New York Times has a report this morning that “private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the CIA’s most sensitive activities” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The activities involved “clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the transporting of detainees,” write James Risen and Mark Mazzetti.

A Washington Post report by R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick says “the actions taken by the private personnel went beyond the protective role specified in a classified Blackwater contract with the CIA and included active participation in raids overseen by CIA or special forces personnel.” 

Some other perspectives:

- Michael Walzer (Dissent): “Is Obama’s war in Afghanistan just?

 - Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason: “Obama’s indecent interval

- Margaret Carlson (Bloomberg): “Obama surrenders to general’s political surge

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