More on chivalry:

This is an article from the Chronicle Review on teaching the ethic of honor at the Naval Academy. The most relevant point for those who have argued that chivalry is antiquated romanticism:

"When warriors fight murderers, they may be tempted to become like the evil they hope to destroy. Their only protection is their code of honor. The professional military ethics that restrain warriors -- that keep them from targeting those who cannot fight back, from taking pleasure in killing, from striking harder than is necessary, and that encourage them to offer mercy to their defeated enemies and even to help rebuild their countries and communities -- are also their own protection against becoming what they abhor."

Also, the NY Times has this anitwar article comparing the curent conflict to the Trojan war. This is exactly the kind of argument that fascinates me: an attempt to work out right ethics in the context of the Western tradition. There can be no better guide. My opinion is that the proper model from the Iliad is Odyessus. As the article points out, he took some pains to avoid war (although even Odysseus didn't hold out for twelve years of diplomacy). Once the war was joined, however, he bent himself to the business of victory. No fighter was more cunning or inventive. Master soldier and mariner, Homer called him: perhaps an early Marine.

Still, the real point at which the Trojan War comes into our world is this: we are on the cusp of a r eturn to an age in which war means the total destruction of cities. In the ancient world, a taken city was laid waste utterly, men and boys killed, women enslaved, the buildings razed, the crops burned, and sometimes--as at Carthage--the earth sowed with salt. Even the mechanized warfare of WWII was not so thorough. Dresden, firebombed, still was healthier than Troy when the Greeks finished with her.

The United States government, through its military and intelligence services, is the force in the world most devoted to and capable of preventing the return of such horrors. This is the real threat of nuclear terrorism: We are the Trojans, this time, with a hungry horde of black ships by the sea. It is we who must watch for the Trojan horse. We must be emphatic. Wait and watch, suggests the author of the Times piece: perhaps the enemy will starve. Perhaps they'll just slip out of the horse and plan a new attack. Let's burn the horse instead.

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