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The Morality of Ends and Means

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Mona Siddiqui, Anne McElvoy, Melanie Philips and Giles Fraser

First it was Salisbury and now it’s Istanbul. Once again the news outdoes the most lurid spy thriller. This time the story features the bumping-off of a dissident journalist as he collected divorce papers from a Saudi Arabian consulate, while his fiancée waited for him outside. At first, the Saudis flatly denied the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, saying he left the building unharmed. Now the Kingdom admits he died in a "rogue operation" - without explaining unverified reports of a team of suspected agents arriving from Riyadh in two private jets, accompanied by a pathologist with a bonesaw. How should Britain and her allies respond to this dark episode? Is it time to cut ourselves loose from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The young ruler has been a reformer; he has let women drive and curtailed the oppressive religious police. On the other hand, those who care about human rights are concerned about the oppression of his political opponents. Bin Salman said recently that he was ‘trying to get rid of extremism and terrorism without civil war’. Is that an effort we should be supporting? Many believe we should stop supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia when we know they will be used to blow up children in Yemen. Others say it is hypocrisy for us to take the moral high ground and that we should be concerned only with what is in our national interest. More generally, when is it morally acceptable to make alliances with bad people in order to defeat worse people, or to allow bad things to happen in order to avert greater evils? When, if ever, does the end justify the means? Witnesses are: SORIN BAIASU, Professor of Philosophy at Keele University and Secretary of the UK Kant Society; DR STEPHEN DE WIJZE, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at Manchester University; DR NEIL QUILLIAM, Senior Research Fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House; and ANDREW SMITH, Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

Producer: Dan Tierney

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Sat 27 Oct 2018 22:15


The Evidence Toolkit

The Evidence Toolkit

Check out the claims made in news stories with this interactive tool.