Reinhold Niebuhr once broke with the editor of this magazine to argue that moral responsibility requires resisting evil with force. It’s a compelling argument, but it doesn’t justify torture.
Some people see violence as an absolute wrong. Others see it as a sometimes necessary evil, with considerable variation as to just how often these times come up. I’m at the dovish end of the latter group: I believe that there are times—not many, not remotely as many as American foreign policy consensus or law enforcement norms would have it, but some times—when a violent action might be the least-bad available option. But a necessary evil isn’t a virtue; “least bad” doesn’t mean “good.”
David Petraeus's failings aren't the same as his biblical namesake's. No one went to die so he could bed Paula Broadwell. Still, we expected more.
Human beings give way too easily to the temptation to make our arguments on each other's bodies. The apostles' lives were saved because one learned man was willing the make his argument another way.