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Document Details :
Title: International Society: What is the best we can do?
Subtitle: The Multatuli Lecture 1999
Author(s): WALZER, Michael
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 6 Issue: 3-4 Date: 1999
I finished the first draft of this lecture just before the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia began — a campaign that provides, I think, a prime example of the failure of international society. A double failure in this case: its political agencies were not able to respond in a timely fashion to the disaster of the former Yugoslavia, and then they were not able to find a more effective form of military intervention. The problem both times wasn't one of organization but of political will, and I am afraid that I won't have much to say in this lecture about how to solve it. No doubt there are organizational structures that lend themselves to swift and strong action in a crisis. But these structures can as easily produce reckless and cruel acts as wise ones, and so we need to limit their powers. And then, properly limited, they may not act at all. This dilemma is an old one, and my way of dealing with it — which, as you will see, is to multiply structures and agents in the hope that somewhere, somehow, someone will do the right thing — will certainly seem inadequate. I concede immediately that I cannot produce an organizational chart showing how a decision to act rightly in international society would be deliberated, and decided, and then resolutely carried out. There is no such procedural or organizational solution; we have to think instead of a political strategy for coping with crises and for creating the sorts of agents that might cope successfully. That's my goal. It doesn't answer to the urgency of the daily news, but these days nothing could answer.