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A provocative discussion of recent wars and the issues that surround them, written by a preeminent political theorist Michael Walzer is one of the world’s most eminent philosophers on the subject of war and ethics. Now, for the first time since his classic Just and Unjust Wars was published almost three decades ago, this volume brings together his most provocative argument A provocative discussion of recent wars and the issues that surround them, written by a preeminent political theorist Michael Walzer is one of the world’s most eminent philosophers on the subject of war and ethics. Now, for the first time since his classic Just and Unjust Wars was published almost three decades ago, this volume brings together his most provocative arguments about contemporary military conflicts and the ethical issues they raise. The essays in the book are divided into three sections. The first deals with issues such as humanitarian intervention, emergency ethics, and terrorism. The second consists of Walzer’s responses to particular wars, including the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And the third presents an essay in which Walzer imagines a future in which war might play a less significant part in our lives. In his introduction, Walzer reveals how his thinking has changed over time. Written during a period of intense debate over the proper use of armed force, this book gets to the heart of difficult problems and argues persuasively for a moral perspective on war.


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A provocative discussion of recent wars and the issues that surround them, written by a preeminent political theorist Michael Walzer is one of the world’s most eminent philosophers on the subject of war and ethics. Now, for the first time since his classic Just and Unjust Wars was published almost three decades ago, this volume brings together his most provocative argument A provocative discussion of recent wars and the issues that surround them, written by a preeminent political theorist Michael Walzer is one of the world’s most eminent philosophers on the subject of war and ethics. Now, for the first time since his classic Just and Unjust Wars was published almost three decades ago, this volume brings together his most provocative arguments about contemporary military conflicts and the ethical issues they raise. The essays in the book are divided into three sections. The first deals with issues such as humanitarian intervention, emergency ethics, and terrorism. The second consists of Walzer’s responses to particular wars, including the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And the third presents an essay in which Walzer imagines a future in which war might play a less significant part in our lives. In his introduction, Walzer reveals how his thinking has changed over time. Written during a period of intense debate over the proper use of armed force, this book gets to the heart of difficult problems and argues persuasively for a moral perspective on war.

30 review for Arguing About War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Libyan revolution was at one time seen as the lone example of a successful UN intervention (no boots on the ground).But now, four years after the revolution, the murder of Qaddafi and the collapse of his regime, Libya is still undergoing an upsurge in instability. As I write these words, there's a war in my city - Benghazi - between the national army and a coalition of ex-rebels militias and fundamentalists (primarily, Ansar Al-Sharia which follows the same path as ISIS). Some analysts believe i Libyan revolution was at one time seen as the lone example of a successful UN intervention (no boots on the ground).But now, four years after the revolution, the murder of Qaddafi and the collapse of his regime, Libya is still undergoing an upsurge in instability. As I write these words, there's a war in my city - Benghazi - between the national army and a coalition of ex-rebels militias and fundamentalists (primarily, Ansar Al-Sharia which follows the same path as ISIS). Some analysts believe it is a civil war, keeping in mind that the people of Libya do not believe nor hope it to be so. Though, to get to our subject here. I think that moral dilemmas and paradoxes which are thought-provoking, would be my summary of this book. To read this is critical, especially now, with the expansion of global media where it has made it possible to be more aware and conscious of wars, particularly domestic conflicts in third world countries. One is strongly inclined to have an opinion of whether the intervention of superior states (for humanitarian reasons at least) is justifiable. What I admired about the book is that the author tries vigorously to argue for all sides. An example would be that some people denounce this so-called "just war" theory - which is the central idea of the book - because justifying the war or putting it in moral terms, when we obviously know that it results in the killing of people. Which as a principle should never be justified (at least as pacifists go). The author goes further to say that justifiable cases are ones we consider "morally necessary" compared with other available alternatives. In my opinion, intervention (along with its casualties) is aimed to prevent further deaths and damage. Yet this, in practical grounds, has proved many times that it can only complicate things more. Should the boots on the ground method be used? If so, how and when is it best to apply an exit strategy? And if we ran to other options like airstrikes (bombing) or even economic sanctions, in what way will they be realistically effective? But if one negates all this and no action is taken, would be free of any kind of moral guilt?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    The more I think about this book, the more I realize that it is immeasurably good when engaging in the discussion of morality and ethics in international relations. The only thing I'd really change is some of the repetitive wordiness, but as far as academic books go, one of the least painful I've had to endure. The more I think about this book, the more I realize that it is immeasurably good when engaging in the discussion of morality and ethics in international relations. The only thing I'd really change is some of the repetitive wordiness, but as far as academic books go, one of the least painful I've had to endure.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    This is a pretty good collection of essays analyzing ethical aspects of modern warfare. His Just War is more famous and probably more important, but this book tries to update his theories for a terrorist-centered warfighting era.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mavaddat

    This book is useful for politicians who wish to learn or relay mindless cliches and empty aphorisms in support of war, but it should be avoided for people wishing to actually think about war. The author is pragmatic and parochial frankly to the point of cynicism. His writing betrays as much. He sets out to characterise wars against the powers he personally aligns himself with as "terrorism" — or, more accurately, he characterises "terrorism" as immoral since it amounts to a first hand experience This book is useful for politicians who wish to learn or relay mindless cliches and empty aphorisms in support of war, but it should be avoided for people wishing to actually think about war. The author is pragmatic and parochial frankly to the point of cynicism. His writing betrays as much. He sets out to characterise wars against the powers he personally aligns himself with as "terrorism" — or, more accurately, he characterises "terrorism" as immoral since it amounts to a first hand experience of acts of war — "terrorism" is any act of war against us by them, therefore it is wrong. Perpetrating acts of war on civilian others, however, e.g., the British bombing of civilian targets in German cities, the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these can be justified if they achieve some tactical, instrumental militaristic task for the nation's' larger geopolitical goals. This rank hypocrisy is not even noticed by the author who takes it for granted that when he can imagine experiencing the violence against civilian targets, then it is wrong while when he can imagine perpetrating the violence on civilian targets, it can be acceptable. There is no word on why his privileged perspective should confer a moral status on the acts of violence that target civilians. As for questioning whether war itself is ever necessary, he begins by asserting that certain problems cry out for a violent solution. Yet he does not ask if the violence ever actually resolves or prevents or alleviates the situations that he regards as justifying it. Instead, he regards taking power seriously as requiring us to endorse the use of war. In a single sentence, he summarily dismisses any fundamental critique of war (critique meaning we ask if wars accomplish their goals better than some null hypothesis of diplomacy, sanctions, non-belligerent coercive political pressure) as simply a symptom of refusing to think about being in power. This reckless insouciance indicates a deeply sanguine cynicism or cynical sanguinity on the part of the author. It is not the attitude of a genuine philosopher or serious writer on the arguments about war.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ângela Serrão

    Mesmo caso o leitor não concorde com todas os conceitos trazidos pelo autor sob a esfera do Neorealismo, é um livro obrigatório para o estudo teórico das Relações Internacionais. Traz concepções inovadoras e enriquece directamente esta tradição filosófica e política, tornando-se um dos fundadores do Neorealismo defensivo.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Az

    Walzer, here, has made a clear argument. However, although it may be clear, it is by no means sound. Easy to pick apart using either Kantian morality or Utilitarianism. A decent read, Walzer definitely recognises a gap in our framework but fails to fill it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's pretty bad, dont' waste your time. It's pretty bad, dont' waste your time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cicely

    a must-read after just and unjust wars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirstin

    Devastatingly, I feel like Walzer has lost the idealism of his Just and Unjust Wars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A follow-up to "Just and Unjust War" with case four very interesting modern case studies. A follow-up to "Just and Unjust War" with case four very interesting modern case studies.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Indy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ike Maldonado

  13. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Casteel

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark Buckley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anh

  16. 4 out of 5

    Landon Short

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vannie.11

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joe Miller

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kris Smiley

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valar Morghulis

  21. 5 out of 5

    Morrigan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ras

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brett Champion

  25. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Riley Koenig

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ina Cawl

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shooter

  28. 4 out of 5

    Facsimismile

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Abernathy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Peter Austin

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