Terrorism, Ethics, and Tactics

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The gas that filled the theater in Moscow brought a deadly end to a Chechen terrorist attack. But it also opened a serious debate on the ethics and tactics of counter-terrorism today: what is acceptable in dealing with attacks that are designed to horrify civilians, and calculated to change the policies of their governments.

For years, theologians, soldiers, and philosophers have debated the concept of a “just war.” Now on the table: What is a just war on terrorism? Do the rules change? In the case of the Moscow theater, the situation is complicated by lingering Soviet-style secrecy, but nevertheless, Russian President Putin asks for forgiveness even as he claims triumph: “We couldn’t save them all” he said.

Exploring the ethics of counter-terrorism and reassessing the rules of engagement.


David Brannan, terrorism expert, Rand Corporation

Michael Sandel, professor of government, teaches popular course called “Justice,” Harvard University

Scott Peterson, Moscow bureau chief, Christian Science Monitor.