The supreme emergency exemption proposed by Michael Walzer has engendered controversy because it permits violations of the jus in bello principle of discrimination when a state is faced with imminent defeat at the hands of a very evil enemy. Traditionalists among just war theorists believe that noncombatants should never be deliberately targeted in war whether or not there is a supreme emergency. Pacifists, on the other hand, reject war as immoral even in a supreme emergency. Unlike Walzer, neither just war traditionalists nor pacifists make a special case for supreme emergencies. In this paper, the author borrows Walzer's concept to provide support for a different ethics of war that limits war to supreme emergencies. In non-supreme emergency situations, he agrees with pacifists in rejecting war even if just war requirements are satisfied. But in supreme emergencies, he agrees with just war traditionalists that war can be legitimately fought provided that moral constraints that protect noncombatants are respected.
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