What Distinguishes States?

A partial answer: They can get away with murder that individuals cannot. Their status as “states” gives them a discretionary, albeit evil, position of broad scope in murdering innocent people, thereby overcoming and overriding a wide range of moral teachings and conscience. In the minds of many, this position of power is invested with the idea of being right; but only when the murders are committed by a state they support. Recent examples of murdering states are Ukraine and Israel. IS, a budding or recently-declared state, has shown its murderous capacity already. The U.S., a number of NATO states, the Russian Federation and Syria provide further recent examples in their wars. A number of Gulf states are reportedly arming murderous factions in Syria. These examples are not exhaustive, but they are sufficient to underscore the point that states distinguish themselves by murder.

Murder is routinely defined as “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another”. I take the word “unlawful” not to mean going against the state’s rules and laws, but as going against canons and processes of justice that exist and have evolved regardless of what states declare.


9:40 am on July 17, 2014