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Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With…

Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations (original 1977; edition 1992)

by Michael Walzer

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Title:Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations
Authors:Michael Walzer
Info:Basic Books (1992), Edition: 2nd, Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Just And Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations by Michael Walzer (1977)



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I thought the initial portion of the book asks some good questions and contains some thought provoking analysis.

However, towards the latter part of the book I found myself disagreeing with the author about the WWII strategic bombing campaign and the use of nuclear devices in Japan. Two general things I did not feel he took into account are the differences in total war vs limited engagement (World war with entire nations using all elements of society to support the war effort vs a fraction of society committed to the war effort). The second issue is the judgment of the past by the standards of the present.

I wanted more info on the WWII bombing campaign from the position of the people who defended it. He mentions those people but I don't feel he gave me good info on why they felt the strategic bombing campaign was appropriate. He gives his opinion early in the discussion by calling the allied bombing campaign "terror bombing" over and over.

A specific issue I didn't agree with the author was his dismissiveness of the evil of the WWII era Japanese empire. He feels there is no comparison between the Japanese and the Germans from a moral standpoint and considers the Germans infinitely worse. My great-grandparents fled Indonesia to go back to Holland because they felt the Germans in general were not as evil as the Japanese. A review of the atrocities by the Japanese reveal a terrifying record of genocide and death that earns them a ranking among the worst in the WWII axis of evil.

I recommend Paul Tibbets book on his life and dropping the bomb titled (The Return of the Enola Gay) for a defense of dropping the bomb from someone who was part of the situation.
( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
An interesting and only too pertinent analysis of the morality of wars. Views on states, the individual soldier, etc. Initially written as a response to Vietnam, but some can very easily compare it to Libya or Afghanistan. Good use of historical examples. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Professor Mary Kaldor of LSE has chosen to discuss Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations , on FiveBooks as one of the top five on her subject - War , saying that:

“… This is another classic. He is a philosopher and he wrote it after the Vietnam war asking the question – is war ever just?... The just cause nowadays, according to Walzer, is self-defence against aggression…. There is the distinction between the non-combatant and the combatant. Non-combatants, such as prisoners of war, old men, women and children, are to be protected and there are all kinds of rules about what we now call “collateral damage” which means that the collateral damage has to be proportionate – the cause has to be worthwhile enough that it doesn’t matter if you kill a few people. What Walzer does is to outline a set of principles that have been developed over centuries. …”

The full interview is available here: http://five-books.com/interviews/mary-kaldor ( )
  FiveBooks | Mar 15, 2010 |
A well executed theory of justifying acts of war and what is ethically acceptable during times of war. While I did not agree with all of Walzer’s ideas I respect his work and believe his theory of just war to be a valid one. My only contention with the theory is that throughout the book Walzer explains what can and cannot be done during war, ethically and justly. At the very end he seems to throw out his theory stating that in times of emergency a state may ignore these justifications and do whatever is necessary. This seems be Walzer falling in line with a realist stance. However, Walzer presents a wonderful argument that should be taken seriously. ( )
2 vote goose114 | Feb 15, 2010 |
Solid work about the morality of war actions with many examples. Heavily left-handed, but not with a jerking left knee. Update this with Walzer's articles in "Dissent" about Gaza, South Ossetia, and Iraq II. ( )
  DromJohn | May 13, 2009 |
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Aux martyrs de l'Holocauste; Aux révoltés des Ghettos; Aux partisans des forêts; Aux insurgés des camps; Aux combattants de la résistance; Aux soldats des forces alliées; Aux sauveteurs des frères en péril; Aux vaillants de l'immigration clandestine; À l'éternité - [Inscription at Yad Va-shem Memorial, Jerusalem]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465037070, Paperback)

From the Athenian attack on Melos to the My Lai Massacre, from the wars in the Balkans through the first war in Iraq, Michael Walzer examines the moral issues surrounding military theory, war crimes, and the spoils of war. He studies a variety of conflicts over the course of history, as well as the testimony of those who have been most directly involved--participants, decision makers, and victims. In his introduction to this new edition, Walzer specifically addresses the moral issues surrounding the war in and occupation of Iraq, reminding us once again that "the argument about war and justice is still a political and moral necessity."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:02 -0400)

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Summary: Examines the morals issues surrounding military theory, war crimes, and the spoils of war. (Back cover)

(summary from another edition)

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