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The Triumph of Just War Rhetoric

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Part of the Twenty-First Century Perspectives on War, Peace, and Human Conflict book series (21CP)

Abstract

The notion that war, the intentional use of homicidal force by groups against other groups, is sometimes permissible and even obligatory has proven to be extraordinarily resilient, extending from the ancient Babylonians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks to the present day, even as the chasm spanning literal acts of self-defense and modern military practices has grown ever more vast. Because war is a long-standing phenomenon of human societies, many people accept without questioning the legitimacy of the military and the necessity of the nation’s use of deadly force. But if war is not literally a form of self-defense, then why should it be that groups of people may intentionally slaughter other groups of people, when individuals may not?

Keywords

  • Reasonable Chance
  • Legitimate Authority
  • Deadly Force
  • South Sudan
  • Negotiate Effort

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence. Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed.

—Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech1

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137294630_3
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© 2013 Laurie Calhoun

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Calhoun, L. (2013). The Triumph of Just War Rhetoric. In: War and Delusion. Twenty-First Century Perspectives on War, Peace, and Human Conflict. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137294630_3

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