May 02, 2004

Michael Ignatieff in the Times magazine 

posted by Paul Smith @ 9:25 PM
One of the few bright spots of public discourse in the run-up to war last year was an appearance on Charlie Rose by Michael Ignatieff and Jonathan Schell, a thoughtful debate on the merits of the conflict (Ignatieff pro, Schell con) argued respectfully and without a trace of rancor. As a strong partisan with my heels dug in against the war, Ignatieff wasn't going to change my mind, but I came away for the first time acknowledging there was an intelligent framework to be made in its favor (instead of just a hodge-podge of seemingly unrelated rationales that felt like cover for ulterior motives), or at least that there was a proponent whom I could respect.

Ignatieff displays his intellectual honesty and clarity again in a piece in today's Times Sunday Magazine, entitled Lesser Evils: What it will cost us to succeed in the war on terror. I don't necessarily agree with all of his premises or conclusions -- his proposed solution to the question of the necessity of torture strikes me as a somewhat cynical condescension to the rule of law -- but he proves himself a worthy thinker by provoking and reasoning through a number of difficult and disturbing issues.

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