Simone Weil

Torture, America, and the Laws of War
December 21, 2012

Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American HistoryBy John Fabian Witt (Free Press, 498 pp., $32)   WAR IS ABOUT killing, maiming, and destroying. Yet in its midst men have sought heroism not only in savage acts of bravery but also in observing limits, in finding a way to affirm their and their adversaries’ common humanity, in the concept of honor as a higher expression of morality than is attainable even in peace.

We Intervene
March 21, 2011

After only a few days of allied military action, the Libyan nightmare has been averted, and the rebels are now marching westward again. Like the invincible Serbian juggernaut of yore, the power of Muammar Qaddafi, which frightened Secretary Gates, has been shaken. President Obama has done an admirable thing. On March 18, he gave a speech explaining his decision. The speech was both ringing and baffling: as the poet said, I wish he would explain his explanation. What follows is a commentary on some of the president’s statements.

First, Do No Harm
July 12, 2010

This is the most recent item in a debate about humanitarian intervention.

The Wrath of Man
May 14, 1981

Sophocles: An Interpretation R. P. Winnington-Ingram The list of those who have misinterpreted Sophocles is long and distinguished. Confusing theater with therapy, Freud called the action of Oedipus Rex "a process that can be likened to the work of a psychoanalysis." Misguided by late-18th-century aesthetics, Hegel saw Antigone as the paradigmatic tragedy, a conflict of the individual against the state. Yet Aristotle was perhaps the worst offender. His analysis of Sophoclean drama bequeathed to millennia of critics innumerable idiosyncratic notions.