In a new essay at The New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple considers ends and means in 1990’s Peru:
It was under Fujimori’s presidency that Sendero was defeated. The odious and murderous Guzman was captured, and made to look ridiculous as well as hypocritical. This seemed to me an immense achievement, an uncommon victory over evil.Read the entire essay here
But, of course, some of the methods used to achieve that victory were not up to the standards of Scandinavian democracy. Years later, after Fujimori had shown an uncomfortable attachment to power, and the memory of the situation he inherited had faded somewhat, he was charged with having ordered kidnappings and murder, as well as other offences. And indeed, he was guilty of these things.
How does one assess his moral, as against his legal, guilt? Is it permissible to commit a lesser evil to avoid a greater one? I am not a utilitarian, but it seems to me unrealistic to say that we should never depart from the ideal in order to prevent a much greater departure from the ideal; that, like Kant, we should tell a murderer where his victim is simply so that we do not commit the moral fault of telling a lie. On the other hand, the doctrine that the end justifies the means has been responsible for many horrors, large-scale and small.
Fujimori’s fate is in did ironic. Dalrymple’s article is a well informed, well written and leveled analysis of events even if it dovetails and ends up in a more subjective realm.