War

Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations (Basic Books Classics)

Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations (Basic Books Classics)

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0465037054

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This classic work examines the issues surrounding military theory, war crimes, and the spoils of war from the Athenian attack on Melos to the My Lai massacre. A revised and updated classic treatment of the morality of war written by one of our country's leading philosophers. Just and Unjust Wars examines a variety of conflicts in order to understand exactly why, according to Walzer, "the argument about war and justice is still a political and moral necessity." Walzer's classic work draws on historical illustrations that range all the way from the Athenian attack on Melos to this morning's headlines, and uses the testimony of participants-decision makers and victims alike-to examine the moral issues of warfare.

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meaning of war. His spokesmen are the two Athenian generals, who demand a parley and then speak as generals have rarely done in military history. Let us have no fine words about justice, they say. We for our part will not pretend that, having defeated the Persians, our empire is deserved; you must not claim that having done no injury to the Athenian people, you have a right to be let alone. We will talk instead of what is feasible and what is necessary. For this is what war is really like:

character-the work of historians, not historical actors. Now, the moral point of view derives its legitimacy from the perspective of the actor. \Vhen we make moral judgments, we try to recapture that perspective. We reiterate the decision-making 8 Against "Realism" process, or we rehearse our own future decisions, asking what we would have done ( or what we would do) in similar circumstances. The Athenian generals recognize the importance of such questions, for they defend their policy certain

for "reasons of state," and these reasons were said to have a priviĀ­ leged character, such that they needed only to be alluded to, not even expounded, in order to temlinate all argument. The common assumption in the legal literature of the time ( roughly from the age of Vattel to that of Oppenheim ) is that states always have, like Hobbist individuals, a right to fight.u The analogy is not from domestic to international society, but from the state of nature to international anarchy. But this view

Appeasement The war of 1 870 is a hard case because, with the exception of those French liberals and socialists who challenged Bonaparte and those German social-democrats who condemned the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, none of its participants are very attractive. The moral issues are muddy, and it would not be difficult to argue that the struggle was in fact an aggressive war on both sides, ratber than on each in succession. But the issues are not always muddy; history provides wonderfully

rule of men committed to the continual use of violence, to a policy of genocide, terrorism, and enslavement. Then appeasement would be, quite simply, a failure to resist evil in the world. Now that is exactly what the Munich agreement was. Vann's argument, once we have understood its terms, undermines his own case. For there can be no doubt that Nazism represented the rule of violence, and that its true character was sufficiently known at the time. And there can be no doubt that Czechoslovakia

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