Adam Smith on War's Innocent Victims
That the innocent, though they may have some connection or dependency upon the guilty (which, perhaps, they themselves cannot help), should not upon that account suffer or be punished for the guilty, is one of the plainest and most obvious rules of justice. In the most unjust war, however, it is commonly the sovereign or the rulers only who are guilty. The subjects are almost always perfectly innocent. Whenever it suits the conveniency of a public enemy, however, the goods of the peaceable citizens are seized both at land and at sea; their lands are laid waste, their houses are burnt, and they themselves, if they presume to make any resistance, are murdered or led into captivity; and all this in the most perfect conformity to what are called the laws of nations.
This is from Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
One of my goals, in traveling to and from the Mont Pelerin Society meetings in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, was to get through at least 200 pages of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. I’m reading it through for the first time, in preparation for an OLLI talk I’m giving in Monterey in December. Although I found it hard slogging at first, after a while, I found a rhythm.
That guy was sharp.