Walt Schrepel



Before the current “Al-AqsaIntifada erupted, Algerian nationalists represented by the National Liberation Front (FLN) used terror bombings against non-combatants as a means for winning Algerian independence.  The FLN adopted a then-novel, asymmetric strategy, with its terror campaign in the capital of French Algeria.  Its objectives appeared eerily similar to those observed in the current “Al-AqsaIntifada: undermine noncombatant security; demonstrate the political incoherence of a colonial regime; gain international support for the cause; and, demonstrate the futility of combating an urban insurgency.[1]  Above all, the FLN sought to erode political support in the metropole for sustaining France’s colonial regime in Algeria.[2]  Into this cauldron stepped paratroopers of the 10th Parachute Division, les paras, tasked with one mission: to crush decisively the FLN terrorists.[3]

The Battle for Algiers deserves special study given today’s war against terrorism.  The events from half a century ago appear to have been comparatively unpublicized, even though many of the events described herein bear resemblance to counter-insurgency campaigns being waged against Islamist suicide operations, including the current Intifada.[4]  The FLN radicalized warfare with a new paradigm now being used by Islamist terrorists.[5]   For this reason alone, philosophers, soldiers, and citizens ought to review this period with careful consideration.

Compulsion and necessity figured prominently during the battle on both sides.  Algerian revolutionaries lacked the conventional means to fight the stronger French regime in conventional battle.  Terror tactics appeared to be useful means for leveling the playing field and achieving multiple objectives.  Jean Paul Sartre recognized the killing of European noncombatants as a necessary means to achieve Algeria’s political and philosophical liberation: “To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time:  there remains a dead man and a free man.”[6]  Sartre’s “existentialist encounter between masters and slaves” ought to fail to obtain my approving war against the innocent, a clear immoral proposition.  For the French, the paras found themselves compelled by necessity to halt the butchery of the innocent.   The paras recognized the effectiveness of FLN tactics and regrettably responded with equal cold-blooded ferocity. Although Colonel Anthony Hartle has claimed counter-terrorist operations must be “carried out with maximum force and efficiency,” para tactics and operations exceeded permissible limits, even in an emergency that was Algiers.[7]  

Algiers should instruct us about the ethical landmines and limitations of using soldiers in urban terrain, in and among civilians.  In the near future, American soldiers may be forced by strategic or operational necessity to operate in urban terrain among a hostile indigenous population.  One may assume such battlefields would necessarily be found abroad.  In reality, the likelihood of conducting urban operations in domestic cities within the United States should not be ruled out.  Wherever an enemy adopts asymmetric attacks, including terrorism, American soldiers must respond to challenge to the American way of war.  Combating terrorism in urban areas pits soldiers into uncomfortable and unfamiliar roles.   In order to defeat a terrorist enemy, American soldiers at all levels of command will require prior training and education to prevent military operations from becoming moral quagmires without victory or justice.  While the message for general officers is plain, political leaders must not be excluded from the educational process.   Taking the Pontius Pilate route of symbolically washing one’s hands after the event is no longer a permissible option.


My purpose in analyzing this battle is to analyze the tension between a “pure” military victory and the just war principle of Military Necessity.  The term “pure” military victory follows from Walzer’s expression of the Realist argument in Just and Unjust Wars offered by soldiers who seek victory without considering the justice of the means used to win.  As we will see, Algiers is a prime example of the pure military victory won solely with military force and expertise.   The paras won their victory without considering moral merits for sustaining a colonial regime of questionable justice.[8]   Accordingly, investigating issues related to jus ad bellum and the obvious culpability of Fourth Republic politicians will be beyond the scope of this paper.  Instead, my concern will focus on the permissibility of the means used by the paras during their eight-month counter-terrorism campaign.  From their viewpoint, the emergency in Algiers permitted, even required, a highly elastic interpretation of military necessity to excuse their behavior.  Despite any mistaken beliefs to the contrary, the paras dishonored themselves by not fighting well as required by the principles of jus in bello.[9]  Algiers became a great Pyrrhic victory that continues to stain French military honor to this day with “dirty hands,” undermining French claims of fighting for Western values, civilization, peace, and justice.  It is, therefore, urgent for us citizens, soldiers, and statesmen to consider the operational and ethical challenges to the very values we desire to defend as the true lessons to be learned from the Battle for Algiers.

In order to understand the issues surrounding military necessity, I will briefly summarize the period’s key events.  I intend to start with the terror campaign unleashed by the FLN that jolted the French administration into action.  I will abbreviate a narration of para operations for economy’s sake.  This long introduction will set the stage for analyzing the permissibility of using military necessity to excuse efficient, but morally questionable, counter-terrorist tactics.  Impermissible means were not then and cannot now be justified in Algiers even as the Just War evolves during our contemporary war against terror.


In the waning months of 1956, the capital of French Algeria ran with the blood of innocents.  Random bombings, political assassinations, street murders had transformed Algiers into a lawless, insecure city.  The momentum in the two-year old Algerian rebellion had shifted to the cities.  After being surprised by the FLN, the government in Paris launched a massive military build-up by expanding the French garrison in Algeria ten-fold.  While reservists and regular troops garrisoned towns and cities, para battalions hunted the guerillas on the bled.[10]  The resulting uneasy military stalemate appeared to favor France as the ALN (the FLN’s military wing) found itself unable to meet the French Army on equal terms.  Recognizing the demise of its conventional tactics, the FLN boldly adopted an urban strategy using terrorism to regain the initiative.  Algiers would become a new battlefield as the FLN political leadership sought to cripple the capital of the colonial administration.[11] 

Urban terrorism offers a highly effective operational and strategic technique for underdogs seeking to strike their enemy’s strategic weakness.  Bard O’Neill defines terrorism as a “form of warfare in which violence is directed primarily against noncombatants (usually unarmed civilians), rather than operational military and police forces or economic assets (public or private).”[12]  William V. O’Brien describes the utility of terror campaigns: “insurgents use terror tactics designed to subvert the confidence of the populations in the regime and its prospects.  The message implies in these tactics is that no one is safe anywhere as long as the regime remains in power.”[13]  The essential ethical point concerns the intent to harm the innocent because the “terrorist aims to harm or kill the innocent, whereas legitimate acts of war, when they do harm the innocent, do so unintentionally,” according to Jeff McMahan.[14]  And so, the FLN terrorists planted bombs in the European quarter—in restaurants, discos, milk bars, coffee shops, lampposts, and sports stadiums—largely in sites populated by the young Europeans. 

Gillo Pontecorvo portrays the terrorist threat in his classic semi-documentary, The Battle for Algiers.  He describes the terrorists’ deadly handiwork.[15]  “The jukebox is flung into the middle of the street.  There is blood, strips of flesh, material . . . the white smoke and shouts, weeping, hysterical girls’ screams. One of them no longer has an arm and runs around howling despairingly; it is impossible to control her.”[16]  Street crime and random killings terrorized Arab and European civilians alike, causing fear and uncertainty.[17]  David Johnson suggests “terrorist acts strike fear into the hearts of those who are not even present.”[18]  Colonel Roger Trinquier, a leading counter-revolutionary writer of the period, attested to the terrorist’s power, only this time power grew from the bomb, knife, as well as the barrel of a gun.[19]   

For the paras, veterans of Indochina, the FLN represented another Communist revolution posing as a nationalist movement.  For an army recently ejected from Indochina by a combination of military incompetence, political abandonment, and Viet Minh skill, Algeria represented the ultimate crucible.  While Indochina had been a distant, colonial affair, Algeria was an overseas French departement analogous to Hawaii in the American experience.  The FLN had declared war not only against the French presence in Algeria but also against France herself.   If Fourth Republic politicians could not see the danger, the army, but most especially the Indochina veterans, saw it all too clearly.  The fight for Algeria would be a battle for the French Army’s soul and very likely for the survival of France herself against decadence, defeatism, and Communism.[20]  George Armstrong Kelly aptly described this war as one the French Army simply had to win.[21]


By December 1956, the level of terrorist violence had reached unprecedented proportions following the murder of a prominent French politician.  The emergency compelled Governor-General Robert Lacoste to act decisively.  He called on General Jacques Massu to assume the duties of super-magistrate and super-prefect of police armed with extraordinary powers under the Special Powers Act. Massu led his paras in red and green berets against the terror with their usual efficient “quick strike and the brilliant actions” they had displayed on the bled.[22]  The center of gravity for para operations would be the Casbah, a concentrated slum of housing over 100,000 Arabs.  Saadi Yacef, ALN commander, had transformed the Casbah into formidable, fortified zone, complete with tunnels, and hide positions, arms caches, and bomb factories that the police refused to enter.[23]  In this rabbit warren of twisting alleys, the FLN terror network sought shelter among the voluntary and involuntary sympathizers.[24]  

In order to defeat the terrorists, Massu planned to secure the Muslim population, weed out the terrorists, and reconquer Arab allegiance with a combination of what we would call Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations.  Accordingly, the paras forcefully seized control of the Casbah with a bruising, continuous presence.[25]  First and foremost, the terror network would be defeated with drastic action described by Clausewitz.

Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war.  Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst. . . .  If one side uses force without compunction, undeterred by the bloodshed it involves, while the other side refrains, the first will gain the upper hand.  That side will force the other to follow suit: each will drive its opponent toward extremes, and the only limiting factors are the counterpoises inherent in war.[26]  

Wire obstacles controlled egress from the Casbah.  Identities of all Arabs were checked.  Arab men were searched, although the French appeared to respect the integrity of Arab women.   Homes were entered without warrant, searched, and ransacked.  Nightly curfews immobilized Casbah inhabitants.  In short order, the paras reestablished order with strong demonstrations of government resolve unknown under the “peacetime” regime prior to the emergency.[27]  

Massu used his extraordinary powers to "adapt” the criminal justice system to the emergency.  One does “not fight a revolutionary war with the Napoleonic code,” noted Colonel Lacheroy, a leading proponent of the French counter-revolutionary doctrine.[28]  The pre-emergency criminal justice system had failed to adjust to the wartime conditions.  One may imagine the same sorts of arguments offered by defense attorneys for terrorist suspects as have been seen in the months since the 9/11 World Trade Center bombing. [29]  Terrorist actions were treated lightly in some cases by the courts.  First-time offenders accused of terrorist crimes were released with warnings or given bail.  Jacques Chevallier, a former government minister, highlighted the justice system’s inefficiency.

The Algerian rebellion revealed how ill-fitted our judicial and legislative processes were to cope with an unprecedented state of affairs which forced us to undertake veritable military operations against French citizens . . . in peacetime, and under a peacetime regime.  The slowness . . . at the outset of the rebellion . . . compelled the responsible authorities to take illicit steps if they wished to act rapidly and effectively. This required of them the assumption of personal responsibilities that they sometimes refused to shoulder.[30] 

Astonishingly, martial law had not been declared by the political authorities to this point in the emergency.[31]  Even so, the National Assembly had passed the Special Powers Act delegating powers to the governor-general to deal with the emergency.  Lacoste, in turn, delegated those powers to Massu.   In his new capacity as super-magistrate, Massu could authorize the internment of suspects without probable cause:  “the most extensive powers for undertaking any exceptional measure dictated by circumstances with a view to the reestablishment of order, the protection pf persons, and property and the safeguard of territory.” [32]  Flimsy evidence or mere accusation was sufficient for arrest or detainment.  No probable cause, warrants, Miranda warnings, or habeas corpus here.  Suspects were often held indefinitely in detention camps—camps de triage et de transit.[33]  Former felons were detained even after having serving their prison sentences.   The more dangerous FLN operatives, the “irreducibles,” were legally sentenced to capital punishment, although illegal, summary executions were also used.[34]  The results were dramatic.  According to captured FLN files, one forlorn Algerian reported:  “We are no longer protected by legality.  We ask all our friends to have legality re-established; otherwise we are lost.”[35]

“Close interrogation” of the accused and suspects raised cries of moral outrage.  Interrogators used morally questionable means, including brutality and torture. The guilty and innocent, the terrorists and bystanders alike, were turned over to trained interrogators.  Close interrogation became a primary means for extracting intelligence from the suspect population which appeared to be all Arabs: terrorists, FLN supporters, and the unlucky.  In ideal circumstances, the innocent would not have been harmed; however, warring against a totalitarian enemy made the ideal illogical and impracticable.[36]  Hardball rules were needed.  Interrogation specialists used legitimate persuasion and illegal torture to extract information.[37]  Beatings and drownings proved useful.[38]  However, la gengene became the war’s most notorious interrogation procedure.  A field telephone generates electric current through bare copper wires attached to the genitals causing resistance to collapse shortly.  However, despite its simplicity and practicality, la gengene challenged French moral sensitivities imagination more than any other procedure.  Many Frenchmen, including many paras, had experienced Nazi tortures during the Occupation.[39]  Growing numbers of soldiers and Catholic clerics became increasingly morally outraged.  Soldiers who had been fighting the worst of the FLN atrocities first-hand, understandably rationalized their behavior as necessary evils. One officer in the 10th Parachute Division stated he “received the order to torture with a view for collecting information . . . They were told the end justified the means, and that France’s victory depended on it (torture).”[40] 

The intelligence gained by close interrogation and related programs proved invaluable.  Intelligence officers developed the organigramme, a skeletal organization chart of the FLN terror network.  During nightly curfews, paras attacked key targets: bomb factories, arms caches, “banks,” and fund collectors.  Armed with superior information, the division whittled down the FLN infrastructure.  Eventually, Massu’s deputy “hacked” into FLN communications. The paras eventually captured Saadi Yacef, chief FLN leader remaining in the city.  Finally, the terror campaign ended in September 1957 with the suicide of the most notorious terrorist, Ali La Pointe.[41]  Peace returned to Algiers. 

Using morally questionable means in a period of non-war actually bothered Massu, even though his critics condemned him for intellectual insensitivity, according to Kelly.[42]  Father Louis Delarue, his division chaplain, prepared a position paper that influenced division policy: “Between two evils, it is necessary to choose the least.  So the innocent persons should not be unjustly punished and put to death or mutilated, the criminals must be punished and put effectively out of harm’s way.”[43]   To quiet his critics, Massu personally submitted to la gengene to ascertain its effectiveness.  Of course, the general could end the session; suspects could not.  Perhaps the battle-hardened para general had become inured to unconstrained violence after years of continuous, desperate combat.  Soldiers are often forced to choose the lesser of two evils to achieve a more just end rather than to allow a greater evil to triumph.  Torture could arguably be considered an emergency tactic as a radical means needed to defeat a greater evil.  Unfortunately, complying with the tenets of French counter-revolutionary doctrine, guerre revolutionnaire, condemned Massu’s paras to a moral par with the terrorists even though they descended to the gutter under compulsion.[44] 

Not every soldier shared the Realist view.  General Paris de Bollardiere--Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, Companion of the Liberation—was a notable exception.  His experience against the Nazis had shaped his moral compass.  He forbade torture.  While in civilian clothes, Bollardiere overheard officers boasting about the efficiency:  “In Algiers now, there is nothing but genuine chaps, the (Foreign) Legion, fine big blond fellows, stalwarts, not sentimentalists.”  Bollardiere replied, “Doesn’t that remind you anything, des grands gars blonds, pas sentimentaux  (meaning, Aryan-like guys who act without pity)?” [45] Bollardierre declined to use torture.  Perhaps he knew counter-terror tactics were not militarily necessary to justify suspending the laws of war, even in Algiers.[46]   Accordingly, Bollardierre lodged the war’s only formal protest against torture by a general officer.  After receiving no satisfaction, he wrote scathingly to a journalist friend and then requested relief of command.  After being charged with violating military discipline, Bollardiere served sixty days “fortress arrest.”  He eventually, but regretfully, retired from the service. [47] Although military necessity did extinguish the terror campaign and saved lives, its elastic interpretation requires further investigation.  Otherwise, it will be impossible to know why Bollardiere was right and Massu wrong.


At first glance, urban terrorism offers a moral justification for using what would normally be considered excessive force and disproportionate responses by the forces of the State.   Soldiers are expected to take risks; civilians are not.  Civilians have traditionally been considered a class of protected persons.  FLN terrorists had clearly radicalized the battle; drastic responses were needed.  Military necessity became a useful justification for acting forcefully with dispatch in the name of the pre-eminent military value of efficiency of effort.  First, soldiers could minimize their exposure to risk, by subduing the enemy with the least expenditure of time, life, and money.  Second and more important, civilians could be saved from the terrorist threat.  Michael Walzer explains necessity in terms of the German doctrine of kreigsraison. 

The doctrine justifies not only whatever is necessary to win the war, but also whatever is necessary to reduce the risks of losing, or simply to reduce losses or the likelihood of losses in the course of the war.  In fact, it is not about necessity at all; it is a way of speaking in code, or a hypothetical way of speaking, about the probability and risk.[48]

Terrorists had made war on civilians.  The paras could do no less in combating the terrorist threat hiding among noncombatants.  This unfortunate situation reflected William T. Sherman’s classic assessment: “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it.”[49]   The necessary had become permissible.

American military regulations cannot substitute for French regulations.  However, using American regulations seems a reasonable method for illustrating by analogy insights about military necessity as generally understood within the traditions of the Western military profession.   The record shows the laws of war limit the unjustified use of military necessity.  Permissible conduct is defined not only by positive law but also “unwritten or customary law  . . . firmly established by the custom of nations and well defined by recognized authorities on international law.”[50]   The Law of Land Warfare, FM 27-10, further limits justifications of under military necessity:

The prohibitory effect of the law of war is not minimized by "military necessity" which has been defined as that principle which justifies those measures not forbidden by international law which are indispensable for securing the complete submission of the enemy as soon as possible.  Military necessity has been generally rejected as a defense for acts forbidden by the customary and conventional laws of war inasmuch as the latter have been developed and framed with consideration for the concept of military necessity.[51] (Emphasis added)

Walzer has shown in the dialogue with the Melians, Realism will lead to the “pure” military victory described earlier under the doctrine of kriegsraison; however, Realism does not easily co-exist with laws of war founded on laws and traditions embodying humanitarian principles.  According to Hartle, two humanitarian principles define the laws of war:

HP1:  Individual persons deserve respect. (Deontological principles of human rights);


HP2:  Human suffering ought to be minimized. (International Law).[52]


First, Hartle states these principles constitute the “basis for formulating the laws of war.”  “Only in situations for there is no applicable law or in situations in which the justifiability of a particular law is being questioned would the principles be directly applied in determining appropriate choice of action.”[53]  Finally, HP1 is considered to be the morally prior principle because it is based on human rights that ought to establish moral protections from unjustified or disproportional violence in wartime.  Thus, military necessity faces high hurdles for setting the laws of war aside.

The paras were not required to be expert philosophers under the doctrine of invincible ignorance.  Soldiers are not expected to have all the facts nor have the necessary time to ponder fine moral arguments.   Larteguy has described how Algiers’ red-hot emotional atmosphere appeared influence soldiers and pieds-noirs alike a selective ignorance of HP1 and an unwillingness to focus on protecting friendly civilians under HP2.  For such an environment, Paul Christopher clarifies resort to military necessity in spite of HP1 and HP2 precisely to prevent the laws of war from losing their currency under battlefield pressure.[54]  He proposes two Moral Truths as the basis for understanding necessity.

MT1:  It is wrong to intentionally harm innocent persons.

            MT2: One is sometimes obligated to protect innocent persons from harm.[55]

Even so, fighting by the rules against an unprincipled foe like the FLN built up pressures to find justifiable exceptions to MT1 and MT2.  That moral principles failed to resonate in hot-blooded Algiers among the paras should not be unrealistic to readers of John Keegan or J. Glenn Gray.[56]   The FLN practiced a particularly heinous form of warfare which appeared to recognize few moral limitations.  The paras had understandably reacted to battle stresses, as Gray has described:  “Never give your enemy a chance,” and exterminate the enemy with lustful vengeance.[57]  Politics had thrust the paras into yet another questionable war using them as instruments of flawed policy ordered, in effect, to destroy other tools.[58] MT1 and MT2 had little currency against the FLN who had forfeited the respect owed combatants and noncombatants alike.[59]  Total destruction of terrorism fueled by racial hatred, weakness of will, or absence of integrity, greased the skids to override the laws of war by military necessity.[60] 

                Military necessity must be understood as a component of jus in bello in establishing limits on battlefield violence.  O’Brien interprets military necessity with three principles: proportionality; discrimination of combatants, and, prohibited means.[61]  Militarily necessary actions are legitimate tactical and operational business permitting “the use of only such force as is truly necessary for military success (what is permitted by the Just War).[62]  Military necessity makes a claim for justly short-circuiting the laws of war by practical discretion.[63]  “Violations of the laws of war . . . which include but are not limited to murder, ill-treatment of prisoners-of-war, or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages or devastated not justified by military necessity.”[64]  Necessity cannot be construed simply in terms of accomplishing the mission.  Christopher rejects a reconstructed definition of military necessity suggested by Telford Taylor: An action is justified by military necessity if it will contribute to the success of the mission.[65]  Taylor had unwittingly made laws of war prisoners of consequentialist reasoning.  Necessity and utility would have overruled the laws of war simply for victory’s sake whenever required.  In this situation, the “humanitarian dimension of the ’laws’ of war would not be laws at all, but merely a set of voluntary guidelines.”[66]    

O’Brien arguably provides a more useful definition of Military Necessity prevents the laws of war from becoming speed bumps on the operational highway: 

MN:  Actions are permissible and justified under military necessity if and only if:

1.  Immediately indispensable and proportionate to a legitimate military end.

2.  Not prohibited by the laws of war or natural law.

3.  Ordered by a responsible commander, who is subject to judicial review.[67]

Military necessity is not an extraordinary right.  “It is the right to perform the normal, legitimate, unquestionably legal acts designated by the law as ‘permissible violence.’”[68]  American Military Tribunals at Nuremburg defined a permissible time frame for immediacy of action within a reasonable period against an expected threat.  Under “imperative necessity,” permissible necessity was distinguished from mere convenience.[69]  In problematic circumstances, proportionality must be balanced against achieving a legitimate military end.[70]  Restoring peace and dispensing justice would seemingly justify proportionate

actions in defense of the communal peace.  However, even “perfectly lawful means of warfare become unlawful when their use is superfluous.”[71] 

O’Brien relies on Natural Law ethics to override positive law component of the laws of war.  The Natural Law theory liberates us from time-specific or socially prevailing norms: “man’s actions . . . must be measured against the precepts and commands of a higher order and that man himself possesses something of that higher order which distinguishes him, from the other creatures of the world.”[72]  Permissible actions are conducted with “right intention” according to James Turner Johnson: 

Positively, the just war requirement of right intention historically meant that use of military force should aim at restoring or creating a just peace . . . Is the good accomplished proportional to the means used? Are there any other means of dealing with the problem that have a reasonable prospect of succeeding? Is there a reasonable hope of success?[73]

Finally, the responsibility of command addresses the problems of legitimate authority and superior orders.  Senior commanders are obliged under command responsibility to differentiate necessity from expedience.[74] While supervising troops may be challenging, as the Yamashita principle suggests, O’Brien states the

absence of rules a of war does not free commanders from obligations to consider what natural law may place upon the use of any war machine.  If the doctrine of superior orders (commanders) should be obliged to refuse to obey orders which are clearly contrary to the restrictions of the natural law.[75] 

Included in his statement must be the essential Western tradition of civilian control of the military. So long as elected executive authorities establish direction and the courts provide judicial review, general officers and their subordinates should not elude moral or legal responsibility.


It might be argued that compulsion called for using normally impermissible means in a limited and temporary fashion if only to save the innocent from unjustified harm.  The Nuremberg principles mentioned earlier appear supportive of the French position.  During the Nuremburg Trials, French prosecutor de Menthon had unsuccessfully argued the point that would have placed the moral burden on the FLN:

Acts committed in the execution of a war are assaults on persons and goods which are themselves prohibited . . . The state of war could make them legitimate only if the war itself was legitimate.  As Mr. Justice Jackson has already argued . . . any recourse to war is a recourse to means that are in themselves criminal. . . .A war perpetrated in violation of international law no longer really possesses the juridical character of a war.  It is truly an act of gangsterism, a systematically criminal undertaking.[76]

De Menthon’s argument failed to persuade his peers.  However, he did raise issues that would appear consistent with French claims justifying their defense against FLN subversion.   First, The Algerian rebellion itself was illegal assault against the legitimate political order.  The international order had long recognized the status quo ante of a French Algeria, although FLN success in Algiers sought to question that legitimacy before the United Nations.  Questions of justice are necessarily relevant in this formal, legal argument since sovereignty remained the essential legal and political criterion.  Secondly, the extent to which the FLN actions violated the laws of war justified responses by the paras proportionate to the danger.  The FLN’s internal war bore little resemblance to non-violent protest campaigns.  Accordingly, 

FLN ferocity compelled equal ferocity as a defense.  This notion may seem dated in our contemporary world since contemporary critics appear to require the State to justify its need to survive. However, during this period, the survival and sovereignty of the State had yet to be undermined completely by anti-colonial criticisms.  The nation- state’s survival justified a vigorous defense from internal as well as external assault.

Precedent seemed to validate de Menthon.  Lieber’s code developed during the Civil War argued that he unarmed citizen “is to be spared in person, property, and honor as the exigencies of war will admit,” of which the FLN certainly had a direct hand in crafting the terror campaign.[77]  Paul Ramsay refers to Reinhold Niehbuhr that war is a mixed consequence in which proportionality involves choosing the lesser of two evils.[78]   The battle for Algiers had compelled the paras to use questionable means required using problematic means. Harming Arab noncombatants was regrettable; however, the FLN had chosen not only the battlefield seeking shelter among civilians but also had chosen the means, namely indiscriminate terrorism.  As Vitoria claimed, it “is never right to slay the guiltless, even as an indirect and unintended result, except when there is no other means of carrying on.”[79]

FLN terrorists posed unique moral and tactical difficulties of their own creation for the paras.   The paras faced an insurmountable challenge in discriminating noncombatants from combatants.[80]  The FLN had changed the terms of battle by deliberately violating the laws of war by intentionally sheltering among civilians.[81] For example, Saadi Yacef had deliberately used European-looking Muslim women to carry explosives to take advantage of French traditions regarding female noncombatants.  On the other hand, the Just War Tradition does not extend a blanket immunity from harm to noncombatants.   Military operations should be planned subjectively and objectively to avoid harming combatants as the primary focus.[82]   De Menthon had argued at Nuremberg that international law defines a war crime as an “infraction committed on the occasion or on the pretext of hostilities is criminal unless justified by the laws and customs of war.”[83]   FLN tactics could never have been justified—except by the likes of Sartre.  If the paras were to follow the traditional laws of war, they would have been forced to fight an unwinnable battle, leaving the innocent at the mercy of criminals: “it appears that the contemporary jus in bello (would have) left law abiding belligerents very much at a disadvantage vis-à-vis law breaking belligerents.”[84]  Vitoria realistically assesses the complexities of urban battle: “Sometimes it is right, in virtue of collateral circumstances, to slay the innocent . . . The proof is that war could not otherwise be waged against even the guilty and the justice of belligerents would be balked.”[85]  The deliberate use of civilians as a shield decisively shifts the moral burden for collateral damage to the FLN, according to O’Brien.[86]


We should do justice—until the heavens are just about to fall.  Algiers may have appeared a moral emergency to the paras and to the threatened pieds-noirs, and politicians.  However, no matter how this issue is dissected, Algiers simply does not qualify as the kind of emergency with which the modern world faces from delusional prophets and megalomaniacs which could justify the tactics used by the paras.  Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will cause the heavens to fall precisely because civilization would be endangered by the death and harm done to millions of persons.   We must investigate the soldier’s role in this process. 

First, the principle of military necessity itself cannot be interpreted by any soldier in the chain of command as justification or excuse for evading the jurisdiction of military, civil, or moral law.  Every lieutenant may feel his war equates to The War in which losing would be unthinkable.  Personalizing war undermines the normative character of the laws of war by creating illusory, unjustified excuses based on local or personal bias for widening the scope and violence of military action.  10th Parachute Division behavior cannot evade the ethical norms of French military and civil, let alone Western, traditions.  “Ethics is not silent . . . For the commander (and all those under him), there are decisions to be made that can result in moral condemnation and praise.  In this sense, acting in war is no different from acting on a daily basis during peacetime,” states Nicholas Fotion.[88]  Hartle’s Humanitarian Principles and Christopher’s Moral Truths ought to apply to all soldiers, but most of all for Western military professionals.  Ultimate decisions for resorting to war rightly reside with the legitimate political authority.  In democratic countries, soldiers cannot justly claim such a prerogative.  Their role is to execute the laws and follow orders.  Thus, based on their training, military professionals ought to recognize that military does not involve determining when the heavens threaten to crash to the ground.  Someone else has that responsibility, as we shall see. 

Second, military professionalism remains a critical moral element in criticizing the paras’ actions.  Military professionals should serve their communities by protecting fundamental social values,” which (demonstrate) the “moral relationship between the professional and the society within which he or she functions.”[89]  Hartle describes the moral burden carried by professionals: “they are experts who by their skills contribute to the good of society.”[90] In Algiers, the paras were considered saviors by Europeans threatened by terror and perhaps also by some Arabs chafing under FLN coercion.  Many Arab men rounded up dragnets without substantive cause would likely offer a different story.  Innocent bystanders had been coerced by the FLN into participating or condoning the terror campaign.  The European community’s universal condemnation of all Arabs, the guilty and innocent alike, sentenced Arab to a wide range of abuses and indignities.  In this situation, group cohesion of the paras proved a significant moral problem.  Richard Gabriel remarks that group cohesion and emotional solidarity found in their “strong loyalties to small groups developed through, and sustained by feelings that all participants are united by similar hardships, risks, fears,” had created understandable but still impermissible tension with the laws of war.[91]  Brutality levied against Arabs would have never been considered against fellow Europeans or Metropolitan Frenchmen—except for leftists and Communists favoring the FLN.  Nonetheless, truly moral professions cannot violate cultural and service norms simply for expedience.  Should professional soldiers believe they are receiving carte blanche, professional discipline and judgment ought to provide commanders with well-reasoned arguments to reject such “gifts” from political authorities.

Third, professional soldiers in democratic states function under civilian leadership.  Elected leaders are the stewards of national values.  Even in moral emergencies, soldiers cannot usurp this political function.[92]  Elected leaders alone must decide the terms of conducting warfare.[93]   Hartle rightly argues military necessity “must be subject to the moral judgment of the military professional . . . (who) alone is in a position to make such a judgment.”[94]  However, Hartle certainly did not intend for the military to act unilaterally, independently of civilian direction, or national values.  Walzer frames military necessity in terms of political necessity.  Extreme threats against civilization or the just community justify short-circuiting the laws of war, as Walzer claims had been rightly done during World War II by the Allies to defeat the Nazis.[95]  Few wars can rival the magnitude of the Nazi threat. Threats by WMD against cities, as we currently fear, would arguably qualify as the emergency Walzer envisions for justifying military necessity to save millions of innocents.  Algiers did not equate to Armageddon.  Saving hundreds just does not rise to the level of Supreme or Political Emergency to justify overriding the laws of war.[96]   

Last, military necessity cannot be declared without serious, disproportionate justifications.  When the enemy has violated the laws of war, the side defending those laws may be justified in taking temporary, extraordinary policies in response.  Ramsay makes a key point.  The FLN voluntarily and egregiously violated the principle of discrimination.  On its face, FLN conduct seemed to offer a justification for aggressive reprisal and counter-action.  However, Ramsay would not agree that the paras would have been justified in using any and all means to feat the terrorists.  Such operations would have violated the principle of proportionality because they were especially harmful and destructive to innocent Arab bystanders.[97]

Natural Law ethics serves as a moral backstop against illegitimate claims of military necessity.  Laurence Grafstein answers contemporary justifications moral relativism with a timeless direction that would have obtained in Algiers: “There are simply no circumstances in which the premeditated targeting of innocent civilians is justified. And the widespread, institutionalized use of this illegitimate tactic . . . even in a supposedly legitimate cause, not only undermines that cause, but also calls into question the very legitimacy of that cause.”[98]  Whether we accept a theological or secular theory, Natural Law ethics offers a foundation for human rights independent of human tyranny or erroneous judgment.  Grotius used the Natural Law in expressing his view of human rights that have “become a quality of a person” owned lawfully and investing persons with moral significance.[99]  Soldiers may not comprehend the finer details of international law, the Declaration of Independence, or the Declaration of the Rights of Man.  The FLN should have known there is no honor in slaughtering civilians; the revolutionaries leveled this same charge against French tactics for their brutality against Arab noncombatants.  Likewise, French soldiers ought to have discriminated more diligently the armed opponent from a willing or coerced sympathizer:  In addition, counter-insurgency forces should have exercised more care to extend the same privileges and protections they themselves would desired.  Johnson aptly puts it right that “it is no (should not be) in the repertoire of the faithful to slaughter the innocent (to pave the road to the Kingdom of heaven on earth with the bodies of the innocent).[100]  History shows we human beings can rise above ignorance and prejudice if only we make the effort.  The Natural Law provides a moral benchmark on which to take a moral stand above.  At least, we can try.


            Massu’s paras certainly played against a stacked deck when they entered the battle for Algiers.  The victory conditions established by Governor-General Lacoste required eliminating the terrorists.  The very tone of the language suggests radical action against the FLN that had selectively used the laws of war to advantage.  It must be remembered that although soldiers were the primary instruments of policy, Algiers remained a political battle over ideas, attitudes, and above all, justice.  The roots of the conflict lay in the failures on both sides to create a Franco-Algerian state in which all men could be treated with respect and dignity.  In such a climate, pure military action had no legitimate role.  Realists appear to make powerful orations about hypothetical subjects like war and peace which yield unsatisfying results precisely because justice is ignored.  The Realist view of war will fail because it calls polarization of war along the segment of the spectrum of force which allows for little compromise and considerations of justice.  Despite offering some consolation of temporary victory, Realism leaves us with the bad taste in the mouth and images of Lady Macbeth’s hands permanently stained by guilt.

Fourth Republic political leaders bear much responsibility for commissioning dirty tasks and then indicting soldiers for violating fine moral principles.[101]  Larteguy compares his paras’ to the Roman centurions defending the frontiers of empire only to be betrayed by the political leaders.  Perhaps the paras’ empire did not deserve to be maintained, since French Algeria’s survival depended on injustice to maintain it.   National policy must be like sausage making and just as problematic.  Political leaders ideally should possess a special kinship with those who fight in their name.  It would be just for the competent political authorities to share the glory or guilt for missions that may have been casually assigned to their soldiers.[102]  The late Colonel Harry Summers’ trinity of government, army, and people offers a metaphor for avoiding political misjudgments which condemn soldiers to unwinnable wars. 

Soldiers in democracies bear the moral burden of obeying just orders, as we have seen.[103]   In spite of feeling justified, the paras never had Cardinal Richelieu‘s warrant of state action: "It is by my order and for the good of the state that the bearer of this has done what he has done.”[104] The limits of permissible action cannot be lights hidden by bushel baskets.  They are found in positive law, international law, religious ethics, military custom and tradition, and Natural Law ethics.  This is not brain surgery.  In The Lost Command, Aicha, a female FLN operative, correctly remarks,  “The heroes of the French revolution would not be very proud of you.”[105]  And for good reason!

Soldiers cannot unilaterally undercut their own ideals by using impermissible tactics.   Torture, summary execution, and disregard for positive and moral law may have appeared necessary but only for those afflicted with moral myopia.  Expedience cannot justify military necessity, as FM 27-10 shows.  Ironically, the French theorists of counter-revolutionary warfare, guerre revolutionnaire, had argued that drastic measures were needed to defend Western civilization against Communist attack.  They were correct:  our Western moral principles are worthy of respect.   However, those same principles ought to empower courageous moral right action, regardless of concerns for victory.  O’Neill summarizes the lesson every soldier should learn from Algiers:

While the French won on the battlefield, the Algerians won the war.  The reason for this paradox was that the Algerians were able to maintain widespread popular support and wear down the French resolve through skillful propaganda efforts and abroad, to exploit violent excesses by the French (torture and terrorism), and to pose the prospect of a costly and interminable struggle.”[106] 

Paul Teitgen, Catholic critic of the army behavior in Algiers, put it more simply and succinctly:  “All right, Massu won the Battle of Algiers in 1957; but that meant losing the war.”[107] 

France continues today to pay a price for moral absentee political leadership and disproportionate pursuit of the fellagha.   General Massu has passed away, but General Paul Aussaresses, then a major in the special security services, has recently and unrepentantly admitted to using torture in Algiers continues to disturb French consciences.[108]   Soldiers, citizens, and the politicians they elect, all must do justice right up until the moment the heavens are about.  Soldiers must obey orders, even the distasteful and inefficient.  They are part, just one part, of Summers’ trinity, one leg of the three-legged stool.   The army ought to stay inside of its lane, even if tough policy decisions will be made by others.  The responsibility for deciding the tough calls must remain with the competent political authorities who alone can determine, justify or punish the likes of Aussaresses.  Perhaps Clemenceau was correct: "War is too important to be left to the generals."[109] 

Pure military victory may win the battle but may just as well very well create conditions in which ultimate victory based on justice would be unattainable.  Bad consequences can live with us for a long, long time, like a gift that keeps on giving.  Algiers should show us that virtue does not lie in victory alone.  A shameful victory is without honor and should be rejected, says Cicero: “It is a shameful victory unless it is gained with honor . . . In truth, it is a noble thing for a man to refuse to gain the victory by foul acts.[110]  Let us hope this among the others lessons will be learned from the Battle for Algiers.



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[1] Charles Krauthammer, “Why They Fight: Because It Works.” The Washington Post, May 15, 2002; Page A27.  The similarity between the FLN and the Palestinian strategies is striking.  Abder-Rahmane Derradji, The Algerian Guerilla Campaign: Strategy and Tactics.  Queenstown:  The Edwin Mellen Press, 1997, p. 179.

[2]  David B. Rivkin Jr. & Lee A. Casey, “No Accident:  The Infidada’s latest casualty.” National Review.  23 May 2002.  Paul-Marie de la Gorce, The French Army: Political-Military History, trans. Kenneth Douglas, New York:  George Braziller, 1963, p. 425.  Their means would include “terrorism, assassination, arson, and indiscriminate slaughter.”

[3] Martin Windrow, Men-At-Arms series # 312, The Algerian War 1954-1962. Osprey Publishing:  Oxford, 1997, pp. 22-23 and 32.The 10th Parachute Division (10me Division Parachutist (D.P.)) consisted of “para,” paratroop, regiments from the colonial, Foreign Legion, and metropolitan regiments.  

[4] Richard Cohen, “From Algiers to Jerusalem,” The Washington Post, April 2, 2002, p.15.

[5] Sol Schindler, “The decline of Islamic Extremism,” in The Washington Times, May 21, 2002.  The FLN was motivated by nationalism and ending French colonial rule.   Schindler believes the 9/11 terrorists of Al-Queda had no overarching political vision other than to kill non-combatants. 

[6] Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars:  A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations.  Basic Books Inc., New York, 1977, p. 204.  Walzer uses and then rebuts Sartre’s argument for liberation.

[7] Anthony E. Hartle, “A Military Ethic in an Age of Terror,” in The Parameters of Military Ethics.  eds. Lloyd J. Matthews and Dale E Brown. New York:  Pergamon-Brassey’s International Defense International Publisher’s, Inc., 1989, p. 139.

[8] Walzer, pp. 4-13.

[9] Jus in Bello is the principle of the Just War that refers to fighting the war well with justice.

[10] Windrow, p. 17.  The “bled” was the French term for the outback. 

[11] Paul Jureidini, Norman A. La Charte, Bert H. Cooper, and William A Lybrand, Casebook On Insurgency and Revolutionary War: 23 Summary Accounts.  Special Operations Research Office:  Washington, D.C., 1962, p. 254.

[12] Bard O’Neill, Insurgency and Terrorism:  Inside Modern Revolutionary Warfare.  Brassey’s, Inc., p. 24.

[13] William V. O’Brien, The Conduct of Just and Limited War.  Praeger:  New York, 1981, p. 180.  O’Neill, pp. 36-37.

[14] Jeff McMahan, “War and Peace,” in A Companion to Ethics. ed. Peter Singer, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1993, p. 389.

[15] Jureidini, p. 256. The terror harmed Arabs indirectly by the expected French counter-terror tactics.  The Battle of Algiers, directed by Gilo Pontecorvo, 1965.  Lost Command, directed by Mark Robson, 1965.

[16] Walzer, p. 205.

[17] Horne, Alistair.  A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962.  New York: The Viking Press, 1977, pp. 208-210.  “I can still see that beautiful young girl of eighteen with both legs blown off, lying unconscious, the blonde hair stained with blood.”  Fragments of feet were visible in shoes lying aimlessly on the rubble. 

[18] David E. Johnson, ‘‘Terror Tactics: A Conceptual Analysis,” in Moral Obligation and the Military:  Collected Essay, Washington, D.C.:  National Defense University Press, p.  21.

[19] Kelly, p. 192.  “Donnez-moi cent bons egorgeurs et je terroriserai la ville de Paris:” Give me one hundred throat-cutting assassins and I could terrorize the city of Paris. From the sayings of Mao Zedong, "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."  “Flawed icon of China's Resurgence.”  Visions of China, in TIME, June 5, 2002.

[20] George Armstrong Kelly, Lost Soldiers: The French Army and Empire in Crisis, 1947-1962, The M.I.T Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965, pp. 131-34. 

[21] Kelly, pp. 169. 

[22] Kelly, pp. 147-8. Bled is a French term for the outback, the hinterland of Algeria.

[23] Derradji, p. 168 and p. 178.

[24] Derradji, p. 187-88.

[25] Marcel Maurice Bigeard.  Pour Une Parcelle de Gloire.  Paris: Plon, 1976, p. 280.

[26] Carl Von Clausewitz, On War. eds. and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton   University Press: Princeton: 1976, pp. 76-76.

[27] John Talbott, The War Without a Name:  France in Algeria, 1954 – 1962, Alfred A. Knopf, New York:  1980, p. 85. Roger Trinquier, Modern Warfare:  A French View of Counterinsurgency. New York:  Frederick A. Preager, 1961, p. 45. Derradji, p. 187.

[28] Ambler, p. 173.  

[29] One can see the current parallel with the War on Terror, as the Department of Justice attempts to categorize suspected terrorists as unjust belligerents, even those who are American citizens.  Consider the Padilla and Hamdi cases.   Richard Tomkins and Michael Kirkland.  'Dirty bomb' suspect a U.S. citizen.” Washington Times, 10 June 2002

[30] De la Gorce, p. 450.

[31] Larteguy, p. 458. The dialogue surrounding the arrest of a FLN leader, representing Ben M’hidi, illustrates the impotence of legal system in responding to the terrorist campaign: “Stick to the rules of the game, Major. Send for my lawyer and the police inspector of this area and his constables, to draw up a  warrant for my arrest, for we’re not in a state of emergency.” 

[32] Jacques Massu, La Vraie Battaille D’Alger, Librairie Plon, Paris, pp. 362-66.  Talbott, p. 83.

[33] Jureidini, p. 258.

[34]John Steward Ambler, The French Army in Politics 1954-1962.  Columbus:  Ohio State University Press, 1966, p. 174. De la Gorce, p. 452

[35] Trinquier, p. 47.

[36] Paul Christopher, Just War Theory:  An Historical and Philosophical Analysis.  Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, 1990. pp. 61-2.  Ambler, p. 224.  When Colonel Bigeard complained “choirboy” tactics

could not get results, a government minister replied: “’only be careful that there were no marks.’”

[37] Trinquier, p. 21.

[38] Horne, pp. 195-96.  “The first of the tortures consisted of suspending the two men completely naked by their feet, their hands bound, behind their backs, and plunging their heads for a long time into a bucket of water to make them talk.  The second torture consisted of suspending them, their hand and feet tied behind their backs, this time their heads upwards.  Underneath them was placed a trestle, and they were made to swing, by fist blows, in such a fashion that their sexual parts rubbed against the very sharp point of the trestle.”

[39] Benjamin Stora, Algeria:  1830 – 2000:  A Short History, trans. Jane Marie Todd, Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 2001, p. 51.

[40] John E. Talbot, ”The Myth and the Reality of the Paratrooper in the Algerian War,” in Armed Forces and Society.  Volume 3, Number 1, Fall 1976, pp. 76-77.  Most of the victims were low-level operators and not the guiltiest terrorists. Paret, pp. 71-2.

[41] Jureidini, p. 258.

[42] Walzer, p. 21.  Jus in bello requires war to be fought well, with acceptable rules of engagement.  Rules or conventions aim at limiting violence to a level consistent with the kind of war being fought.

[43] Kelly, p. 202.

[44] The French presumed the victim would tell the truth. In reality, this is not necessarily correct.

[45] Horne, p. 203.

[46] A threat involving nuclear weapons would arguably justify Military Necessity based on the scale of danger to the political community.  “Security Tighter in New York After Vague Terrorist Threat,” New York Times. May 22, 2002.  “Rumsfeld Says Terrorists Will Use Weapons of Mass “Destruction,” New York Times. May 21, 2002.

[47] Horne, p. 203 and 463.  He protested to Massu, “if the leadership yielded on the absolute principle of respect for human beings, enemy or not, it meant an unleashing of deplorable instincts which no longer knew any limits and which could always find means of justifying itself.”

[48] Walzer, p. 144.

[49] Walzer, p. 32.

[50] FM 27-10, Law of Land Warfare.  18 July 1956. 

“4.  Sources.  The law of war is derived from two principal sources:

a. Lawmaking Treaties (or Conventions), such as the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

b. Custom. Although some of the law of war has not been incorporated in any treaty or convention to which the United States is a party, this body of unwritten or customary law is firmly established by the custom of nations and well defined by recognized authorities on international law.

Lawmaking treaties may be compared with legislative enactments in the national law of the United States and the customary law of war with the unwritten Anglo-American common law.”

[52]Anthony E. Hartle, “Humanitarianism and the Laws of War,” in Philosophy, 61,1986, p. 109. 

[53] Hartle, “Humanitarianism and the Laws of War,” p. 110.

[54] Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 167-68.

[55] Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 172.

[56] John Keegan, The Face of Battle.   Consider the slaughter of French prisoners at Agincourt.  Anthony E. Hartle, Moral Issues in Military Decision Making.  University of Kansas:  Lawrence, Kansas, 1989.  See the McDonough example of using brutality and threats of violence against a purported civilian to clear a lane in a minefield.

[57] J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors, Harper and Row: New York, 1970, pp.132 and 139.  Indochina and Suez followed the debacle of 1940, all of which were fresh in the memories of many officers.

[58] Gray, p. 146.

[59] Larteguy, pp. 15-39. His chapter, “Captain de Glatigny’s Sense of Military Honor,” demonstrates the collision between traditional military values and revolutionary ideology.  Israeli army incursions in Lebanon and more recently in Jenin may have caused similar epiphanies.  Anthony H. Cordesman, “The Second Intifada and the Lessons of Jenin: The Grim realities of Urban Warfare,” in Center of Strategic Studies, Washington, D.C., April 24, 2002.

[60] Gray, pp. 146 and 148: “ Because our wars are becoming ever more totalitarian in character, this professional aspect is suspect.  Increasingly we cannot fight without an image of the enemy as totally evil, for whom any mercy or sympathy is incongruous, if not traitorous.”  “The total human being has no chance to break through to consciousness because there is no official interest in the whole human being.  So the professional image of the enemy is a consequence of the pattern of life imposed on those who serve as instruments of life imposed on those who serve as instruments and not ends.” 

[61] O’Brien, p. 37.

[62] O’Brien, p. 178.

[63] Christopher, Just War Theory, p. 312.

[64] Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace:  An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues, p. 167.

[65] Christopher, Just War Theory, p. 333. 

[66] Christopher, p. 188.

[67] William V. O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” in World Polity:  A Yearbook of Studies in International Law and Organization.  Volume 1.  Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press: 1957, p. 138.

[68] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 138.

[69] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” pp. 141-2.

[70] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 142.

[71] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 149.

[72] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 153.

[73] James Turner Johnson,  “In Response To terror,” in First Things 90. http://www.firstthings. com/ ftissues/ft9902/opinion/johnson.html.

[74] Walzer, p. 317.

[75]O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 157.  C.E. Harriss, Analyzing Moral Theories.  Belmont, California:  Wadsworth, 1986, pp. 71-73.

[76] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 142-43.  M. de Menthon unsuccessfully argued the point that placed the moral burden on the FLN:  “Instead of saying that acts of violence committed in war are, in general, legitimate acts of public war . . .the French theory says that all acts of aggressive war are prima facie common law crimes, each of which must be justified by military necessity as a ‘justifying fact’” on p. 144-45.  The Tribunal held that national positive law is an application of and subordinate to international law, as recognized in the French Constitution of October 1946, in rebuffing the French argument.

[77] Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 166.

[78] Paul Ramsey, The Just War.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1968, p. 429.

[79]  Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 166.

[80] O’Neill, pp.  126-32 and138-40.

[82] Ramsay, p. 429.

[83] O’Brien, “The Meaning of Military Necessity in International Law,” p. 143.

[84] O’Brien, The Conduct of Just and Limited War, p. 69.  Ramsay, p. 434.  He clarifies the challenge facing the counter-terrorist force.  The reprisal cannot include actions that are malum in se. “’Retaliation in kind’ is justified as ‘protective retribution’ only when the kind of retaliation is a not intrinsically wrong.”

[85] Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 62.

[86] O’Brien, The Conduct of Just and Limited Wars, p. 123.  “The US violations of “jus in bello were in substantial measure the result of deliberate Communist policies of using the population as a shield. Often it was impossible to get at the enemy without risking disproportionate actions.” Ramsay, p. 436.

[87] Walzer, p. 230:  “do justice even if the heavens fall.”

[88] Nicholas G. Fotion, Military Ethics: Looking Towards the Future.  Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1990, p. 32.

[89] Hartle, Moral Issues in Military Decision Making p. 23.

[90] Hartle, Moral Issues in Military Decision Making pp. 18-19.

[91] Richard Gabriel, “Modernism and Pre-Modernism:  The Need to Re-think the Basis of Military Organizational Forms,” in Military Ethics and Professionalism:  A Collection of Essays, Washington, D.C.:  National Defense University, 1974, p. 60.  Hartle, Moral Issues in Military Decision Making, p. 152.

[92] The French Army had unfortunately experienced national political failure in 1940.  General De Gaulle stepped into a vacuum as rebel leader of the Free French who refused to obey the armistice. Nonetheless, Algiers could not be equated to 1940.

[93] Michael Walzer,  “Emergency Ethics,” The Joseph A. Reich, Sr., Distinguished Lecture on War, Morality, and the Military Profession.  Number One.  United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs,

Colorado. November 21, 1988,  pp. 14-15. 

[94] Hartle, Moral Issues in Military Decision Making, p. 117.

[95] Walzer, pp. 253-54.

[96] The question of jus ad bellum is beyond the scope of this paper.  Aside from the leftists who would have argued to the contrary, French politicians would have insisted the rebellion by the Algerians was an unjust rebellion against legitimate authority.  Unjust rebellion could be classified as internal war endangering the survival of the State.  Drastic measures would be permissible, perhaps obligatory by the government.  Unfortunately, the moral reality of the situation in the Fourth Republic involved a complex attitude of ignorance, disregard, mixed a condescension towards its Algerian Muslim population. One could infer that French victory would have done little to cure the injustices in the colonial society, from the FLN’s viewpoint, so long as the Fourth Republic, which depended on Algerian colons for forming a government, remained constitutionally intact.  As such Algeria’s situation does not normatively qualify as a justification for Supreme Emergency.  Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, p. 232.  Michael Walzer, “World War II:  Why Was This War Different?” in War and Moral Responsibility.”  ed.  Marshall Cohen, Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon.  Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University Press, 1974, pp. 101-03.   See Walzer’s “World War II: Why Was This War Different,” in War and Moral Responsibility.”  ed.  Marshall Cohen, Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon.  Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University Press, 1974.  Walzer, “Emergency Ethics,” pp.  16. 

[97] Ramsay, p. 439.

[98] Laurence Grafstein, “Age Limit,” in The New Republic, June 4, 2002, http://www.thenewrepublic. com/doc.mhtml?i=20020610&s=diarist061002.  He replied to the relativist assertions by Michael Kinsley, “Answering Sharon,” in Slate, May 9 2002, http://slate.msn. com/ ?id =2065579, concerning the Palestinian terror in the Al-Aqsa Intifada:   “Nevertheless, an illegitimate tactic used in a legitimate cause, as part of a conflict with legitimate and illegitimate tactics and aspirations on both sides, is different from an illegitimate tactic used for purposes that are utterly crazed and malevolent. In short, circumstances matter.”  So-called intellectual elites demonstrate the absence of gravitas and common sense because wise cracking editors of online e-zines have not been attacked by terrorist—yet.

[99] Stephen Buckle, “Natural Law,” in A Companion to Ethics, ed. Peter Singer, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1993, p.168.  C.E. Harriss, Analyzing Moral Theories, Belmont, California:  Wadsworth, 1986.

[100] Johnson, “Terror Tactics,” p. 27.

[101] R.E.M. Irving, The First Indochina War.  London:  Croom Helm, 1975, pp. 1-4.  Ambler, pp. 224-25.  Government commissions failed to lead to corrective action, suggesting the Fourth Republic’s tacit approval for torture as army policy.  

[102] Walzer, p. 231: “The soldier or statesman must be prepared to accept the moral consequences and the burden of guilt that his action entails.” O’Neill on p. 140 states that pluralist democracies have difficulty in patiently dealing with insurgencies when the means require repudiation of commitment to due process.

[103] Talbot,”The Myth and the Reality of the Paratrooper,” in Armed Forces and Society, Volume 3, Number 1, Fall 1976, pp. 78-9. Attacks on the paras were intended to deflect attention on those most accountable:  the political leaders. 

[104] Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers.

[105] Lost Command, directed by mark Robson, 1965.  See Larteguy, p. 385.

[106] O’Neill, p. 39.

[107] Horne, p. 207.  Derradji, pp. 188-90.

[108] “The General Committed No Crime,” in Le Monde, May 18, 2001, france010518.html.  “In the book, entitled "Special Services, Algeria 1955-1957", he alleges that the government of the day had known of, and approved, the use of torture and extra-judicial killings. The General, now 83, describes in detail how he and his ‘death squad’ tortured and killed 24 Algerian prisoners.”  “Les Aveux du general Aussaresses,” Le Monde, June 4, 2002. /0%2C5987%2C3230--179429-%2C00.html.  This article refers to Aussaresses concerning torture and murder, including the death of Ben M’hidi.  “Paul Aussaresses, 83 ans, s'était déjà confié au "Monde", reconnaissant qu'il avait lui-même exécuté des prisonniers et ordonné la mort sans jugement de centaines de suspects. Dans "Services spéciaux, Algérie 1955-1957", . . . il va bien au-delà. Des massacres de Philippeville à la pendaison du leader du FLN, Larbi Ben M'Hidi, il assume et revendique les horreurs dont il fut l'organisateur ou le protagoniste. Sans remord.”

[109] Jeffery Record, “A Note on Values, Interest, and the Use of Force, “ in Parameters, Spring 2001, pp. 15-21.

[110] Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 28.